Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Just One Day #1

Just One Day

Rate this book
A breathtaking journey toward self-discovery and true love, from the author of If I Stay.

When sheltered American good girl Allyson "LuLu" Healey first meets laid-back Dutch actor Willem De Ruiter at an underground performance of Twelfth Night in England, there's an undeniable spark. After just one day together, that spark bursts into a flame, or so it seems to Allyson, until the following morning, when she wakes up after a whirlwind day in Paris to discover that Willem has left. Over the next year, Allyson embarks on a journey to come to terms with the narrow confines of her life, and through Shakespeare, travel, and a quest for her almost-true-love, to break free of those confines.

369 pages, Paperback

First published January 8, 2013

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Gayle Forman

35 books24.6k followers
Award-winning author and journalist Gayle Forman has written several bestselling novels for young adults, including the Just One Series, I Was Here, Where She Went and the #1 New York Times bestseller If I Stay, which has been translated into more than 40 languages and in 2014 was adapted into a major motion picture.

Gayle published Leave Me, her first novel starring adults in 2016 and her latest novel, I Have Lost My Way, comes out in March of 2018.

Gayle lives with her husband and daughters in Brooklyn.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
30,387 (36%)
4 stars
30,710 (36%)
3 stars
16,248 (19%)
2 stars
4,381 (5%)
1 star
2,205 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 8,262 reviews
Profile Image for emma.
1,823 reviews48.6k followers
November 15, 2022


I genuinely love this book. I have for approx 8 years now, but like. A lot has changed in that time. Perhaps most significantly, I had braces 8 years ago. That doesn't have anything to do with why my feelings on this book would have changed, but I believe it had the most significant impact on my evolving personality.

But also 8 years ago, I was a lil thing. I mean, I was still very tall then, but lil emotionally. Much nicer. I liked every book I read. (I know. It's insane to imagine.)

So the fact that I reread this 2-3 times during a period when I did not reread Any Books is not enough for me to be confident that I would still like this book. Because I have very little in common with fifteen-year-old me. I've straight up one-starred at least 3 books I gave 5 stars in 2015. THAT WAS TWO YEARS AGO FROM WHEN I FIRST REVIEWED THIS.

But 8 years passed, I full on changed as a person, but GUESS WHAT STAYED THE SAME.

If you guessed "my love for this book," YOU'RE TODAY'S WINNER.

We follow Allyson, who at the beginning of this book is hashtag enveloped in an extremely overcontrolled tour of Europe called Teen Tours! (Totally rockin' name.) She is with her friend Mel who is hotter than her, which is pretty classic. But then a Very Attractive boy (man, I guess) comes up and is more into Allyson!!!! Also very classic.

But what is (unfortunately) not very classic and what makes me love this book so freakin much is Allyson's character arc. I can only describe it in one way, and that way is EXTRAORDINARILY RAD.

Allyson is very play-by-the-rules. She does not like to take risks. Her life is therefore very boring. However, when Hottie McDottie Many-Language-Speaking Backpacking Boy-Man (Willem, somewhat of a babe) invites them to a Shakespearean street show he’s in, she’s like, ya ok. Even though that means lying and stuff!! Stuff she doesn't do!! Wild.

So she goes and sees it, it's all dandy, he throws a coin at her (more romantic than it sounds, supposedly), and that's that.

EXCEPT IT’S NOT! This full-on worldly total babe is on her train to London. And GUESS THE F*CK WHAT. They go to spend a day in Paris together.

I'm going to say that again.

A day



Whaaaat. That would already be a pretty good book. I love me some v simplistic cheesy romances set in Paris. (See: Anna and the French Kiss, before it became one of the aforementioned books I reread and disliked.)

And this part of the book, where they’re bein’ all romancey in Paris, is definitely fab. But it makes up, like, a third of the whole thing.


When Allyson wakes up in Paris, Willem’s gone. Which sucks. And then she spends the rest of the book wondering what happened to the Paris-version of her, who’s like, open to adventure and says yes and is up for anything. And then she goes the f*ck for it baby!!! She tries to ~find herself~!!!!


I'm honestly sorry about all the caps lock. I'M VERY ENTHUSIASTIC.

So. Maybe this book isn't perfect but I'm not open to the idea that it isn't. Because this book is pretty goddamn inspiring to me. I don't want to be cheesy or heartfelt or emotionally honest because that's profoundly off-brand for me and also generally unpleasant, but I can be kiiiiind of non-risk taking and rule-following sometimes...but most of the best times of my life have been when I wasn't being that way.

(i.e., have happened when I was drunk.)

(JUST KIDDING! Kind of.)


I'm highkey cringing at myself so it must be well past end-this-review o'clock.

I will finish by saying: Willem is pretty hot in this book and all, and that’s a nice bonus, but what is really cool about this book is Allyson.

Bottom line: if you don't like this book you're wrong; Allyson is my daughter; let's all go get drunk in Paris and land some Willems.

reread pre-review

AMAZING NEWS: I loved this book just as much rereading it as I did in twenty goddamn thirteen.

Like, 2017 me: Bitter vessel of hatred; one stars books she used to love; in the midst of a Reread Extravaganza that is going, on average, quite badly.

2013 me: Fifteen, enjoys the simple things in life, still has braces I think, mentally rates every book highly (doesn't have a Goodreads yet).

But those two selves form a lopsided Venn diagram. And in the needlepoint-small cross section of that diagram: a love for this book. And also for sweets.

I legitimately, earnestly, worry- and sarcasm-free can't wait to read the sequel.

Review to come!!!

rereading updates

me most of the time: there's no cure for depression
me when i remember this book exists: there's one cure for depression

(this is my true problematic fave)
Profile Image for Zoë.
328 reviews66.2k followers
July 31, 2015
THIS WAS SO GOOD! I read this while traveling which was the BEST idea. I love how we got to experience so many different countries and meet so many different people without the story getting confusing. Allyson grew so much as a character and ahhhh I just loved it! Now I definitely have to go out and get Just One Year and read it ASAP.
Profile Image for Ariel.
301 reviews64.2k followers
January 27, 2016
January, 2016: "My first read of the year is always a reread and this year I've chosen to reread this book which I loved my first time round! I want to go back into the love of travel and growth of the main character! Hope I love it as much this time!" I tried to read this but had to stop. I wasn't enjoying it and it was tearing up a loved memory for me. Here's a video about the idea of reading books at the perfect time: https://t.co/1k7Ox6fSRF

October, 2013:
Just One Day blew my mind. It took me all over the world and blew my mind.

I have recently been craving this book, CRAVING IT LIKE TURKEY DINNER TWO DAYS BEFORE THANKSGIVING, and I received it for my birthday! I dove right in.. and then kept swimming, and didn't stop for a breath until I finished this beautiful beautiful book.


Format: I loved the format of this book so very much. Almost the first half of his book takes place over just one day: the whirlwind adventure and romance of Allyson and Willem. The second part of the book then covered an entire year. It was really impactful having such a huge part being such a short amount of time, because after Part One as a reader I felt what Allyson felt: SO MUCH HAS HAPPENED AND IT'S ONLY BEEN A DAY! It felt like an entire novel all on its own! Then we fly through an entire year.. it really illustrated how important a day can be.

Characters: There were actually a lot of characters in this book, and they all felt so genuine and critical! I loved that we interacted with so many different people and that even if their impact on Allyson's life was small, it was felt. I really liked Allyson as a main character: if other authors had written her she might have actually gotten annoying, but Gayle Forman wrote her in a way that I always felt like Allyson was on the edge of understanding and that she really wanted to figure it out even if she didn't know how. I felt hope for her. And as for Willem, it's fascinating that we really don't know that much about him. It reminds me of Looking for Alaska, where when Alaska disappears you long for her but you then realize that you really know nothing about her! I felt the same here: I wanted Allyson to find Willem, and I felt attached to him, but really I didn't know him at all!

Settings: Like eating all of the desserts. All of them. I love reading about different cultures and different settings, and this book did NOT disappoint. MOST of the book took place in Paris, which was gorgeous and lush and grimy and glorious, but we also visited London, Avon-Upon-Stratford, Amsterdam, and near-Boston. So many places where I actually felt like I was IN the places, not just looking at them. I was so absorbed in the surroundings that I was constantly immersed in other countries.

Writing: It was nice! To be truthful, I didn't notice it very much WHICH IS TOTALLY OKAY. In my opinion there are basically three types of writing: writing you notice because it's particularly beautiful, writing you notice because it's particularly terrible, and writing you don't really notice because it's simply delivering a story to you. I felt the latter in this book. I really enjoyed the story that Gayle Forman created, I loved the characters, the emotion, the drama, the settings, the messages and themes and morals, but I wasn't swooning over beautifully crafted sentences. I just didn't notice them because I was so busy being alive in the story!

The message: The messages in this book are brilliant brilliant brilliant. So many things that I related to, that I felt I learned, that I agreed with. That travel is important, that we can be different versions of ourselves, that life is just a chain of accidents, that we need to control where we go in life, that we should never give up, and so many more things! Just BRILLIANT.

I loved this book. It is absolutely one of my favourite novels of all time. I know that I will be constantly rereading this novel for the rest of my life. My only complaint is that it made me realize that I need to visit Europe.. SOON. I am so excited for the sequel that comes out in a matter of days (thank goodness because I can't wait too much longer!) and I will definitely be doing an entire video about these two books.
Profile Image for Keertana.
1,126 reviews2,164 followers
January 22, 2013
Rating: 4.5 Stars

Nearly a decade ago, someone once told me that books are like memories; within their pages, they store your emotions and thoughts, a document of sorts of your experience. I still don’t know how true that statement is, but I dearly hope it is – at least when it comes to Just One Day. Nothing better than this book itself can summon up the whirlwind of emotion I felt when I read it. Although I cracked open its spine with trepidation – there are, after all, a plethora of mixed reviews out there – my feelings quickly changed from that of anxiety to excitement as I was swept up alongside Allyson on her breathtaking journey. At one point, I wasn’t sure if I was laughing or crying for I was so full of giddy happiness and bittersweet longing - those are the types of feelings a Gayle Forman novel inspires in you. I finished Just One Day with a smile on my face, my heart swelling with pride for Allyson, who felt as close to me as my own best friend, and although the pang I feel when I think of this novel is only an echo of what I feel for Forman’s If I Stay and Where She Went duo, I still love it, albeit in an entirely different way.

Just One Day is a novel that will very easily either captivate or disappoint readers. It’s a New Adult novel that almost demands that you be a teenager to truly understand it, for Allyson’s journey is such a personal and nostalgic experience, one that everyone can definitely relate to. One of the best ways I can find to summarize it is a realistic rendition of Kristen Hubbard’s Wanderlove. Although Wanderlove is one of my favorite books of all time, I can’t deny that the chances of traveling to a new country and finding a hitchhiker to explore with are rather low. Thus, Allyson’s summer experience in Europe, a disappointing one full of touristy stops and not enough life is easier to relate to. When Willem, an enigmatic Dutch actor who Allyson sees performing Shakespeare in London, offers to take her around Paris – for just one day – she agrees, despite her goody-two-shoes attitude.

What follows is a day of whirlwind journey; it isn’t perfect, but it’s real and it’s far more rewarding than any other trip on Allyson’s summer vacation. Perhaps best of all, to Allyson at least, is that she is no longer Allyson, the girl who listens to her parents, studies hard, and never lives life the way so many other teens do; now, she’s “Lulu”, a nickname Willem gives her, and as “Lulu,” Allyson is finally free to let loose the person she truly is inside. Nevertheless, her exhilarating journey is abruptly halted when, the next morning, Willem is gone. Now, Allyson is distraught, both at thinking that Willem may have just used her and at contemplating her life in college as a pre-med student – a path that her mother, not her, wants to follow. As Allyson will learn, however, her day in Paris wasn’t about Willem at all – it was about her and finding out that she was more than she – or anyone else – ever quite imagined.

Just One Day, as I’m sure countless reviews have stated, is a journey of self-discovery. Although I will admit that it isn’t wholly original, it is certainly memorable. Allyson has a certain vulnerability about her that makes her impossible not to love. In Paris, she may have been pretending to be “Lulu”, but that was who she really was and she struggles to find a way to be that person again, all while continuing to please her parents and hold onto her childhood best friend, Melanie, who constantly reinvents herself. One of my favorite aspects of this tale was the subtle heartbreak that came not only with seeing Allyson and Melanie grow apart, but also Allyson and her parents. In their place, however, Allyson makes new friends, never replacing those from her past, but simply realizing that growing up also means leaving room for new people to join her life, such as Dee, the African American boy she meets in her “Shakespeare Out Loud” class; the person who shows her that although she has many personas – “Lulu”, pre-med student Allyson, reliable Allyson – who she really is is a mixture of all the roles she plays, and still so much more.

In my eyes, what makes Just One Day such a hit-or-miss novel is the mere fact that Allyson is a character trying to find her place in the world. After her trip to Paris, she comes to the stark realization that no one really sees her – not her parents, not her best friends, no one – except for Willem. Willem, who took a bargain in spending a day with her, unknowingly changed her entire life, not just because of who he was, but in what he brought out inside her. What I loved about this story was that Allyson found herself again - finds herself again – and this time, without Willem. It is this journey, this third journey almost; the first being her wake-up call, the second being her slow emergence from the typical life she leads that isn’t really hers, to this now final journey of finding who she is all through her own experience, her own friends, her own interests, and her own initiatives. It’s beautiful.

Nevertheless, I will admit that Just One Day is not a perfect story. For one, some secondary characters, such as Allyson’s father, are astonishingly underdeveloped, lacking personality when surrounded by such well-fleshed out characters. Furthermore, this novel failed to impact me on an emotional level equal to that of If I Stay or Where She Went. I can’t really pinpoint what it is that made this novel fall for me, but a certain aura or fully nuanced aspect of Allyson, perhaps, was missing. Unlike other readers, however, I was never bothered by the mysterious figure that Willem remained throughout the novel. If anything, I loved the way he was portrayed in this book – a traveler, a lonely young man, a player…or someone who we’ve all just judged too quickly, because, perhaps, there’s more to him and his story than what we see before our eyes. Yet, what I liked best was that he didn’t reappear in this story – once he left, he was gone and then it was all Allyson and the manner in which she came to terms with who he was and what he did for her, changing her life, was remarkable.

Just One Day is a novel that just must be read. It is beautifully written and to see Forman take on something different – the idea of living truly and happily instead of the idea of choosing between life and death – was refreshing. Of course, there are many authors who have written self-discovery novels in the past, and I have liked some of them more than this one, but Forman’s tales just never leave my head. I was thinking about this the whole day, ever since I finished it last night (at 11:54, which means I actually read Just One Day in exactly a day!), and I am still convinced that I have not extracted the full depth and meaning that this story has to offer. It’s a universal tale, one that will transport you to other countries, make you feel emotions you thought you could never feel, and ultimately, just as it changed Allyson, it will change a small particle of you too.

You can read this review and more on my blog, Ivy Book Bindings.
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,964 reviews294k followers
September 6, 2016
"Ain't such a line between faking and being."

My heart is saying yes but my head is saying absolutely not. So I guess it's only fair that I appease the two of them and rate exactly down the middle. To be honest, I have come to expect more from Ms Forman's characters. I found it extremely difficult to care about either Allyson or Willem, especially the latter. While I came to appreciate Allyson's story more in the second half and had my heart singing along to the sad tunes of heartbreak, I never came to care much about Willem. Something which became even more obvious when I recently decided to try the sequel - Just One Year.

I've been putting this book off because of the mixed reviews I've seen online but I finally gave into my need to check out everything by my favourite authors. This story is about an American girl called Allyson who goes on a tour around various European cities in the summer before she is due to start college. Allyson has always been the straight-laced, err-on-the-side-of-caution kinda girl, but a meeting with a boy in London seems set to change all of that... if only for just one day.

In a completely spur of the moment decision, Allyson decides to do something crazy for once and runs away to Paris with Willem where they spend one day and night together. When she wakes in the morning, Allyson discovers that Willem has disappeared. Disappointed, she returns to her life in the US and tries to carry on with College and forget about Willem. But she sinks deeper and deeper into depression. With the help of new friends, Allyson decides that all might not be lost after all, and that what she is really seeking might go deeper than a boy she only knew for one day.

Surprisingly, the second half of this book worked for me more than the first. The first half (or third) is certainly more action-packed with spontaneous trips to Paris and a whirlwind romance. But I was so irritated by Allyson and her upper middle class white girl problems... she gets to travel around all these amazing cities in Europe and she feels sorry for herself because the cities "weren't like the movies". Boo freaking hoo. Am I supposed to pity her because she got to go on a trip of a lifetime and just sulked at every stop? Well, I didn't.

She is also a complete Mary Sue. Whine, whine, whine about all these other girls that are more beautiful than she is... but everyone still seems to think she's hot anyway. Is there any female character in this book that Allyson doesn't view with disdain? She's jealous of the overtly sexual Celine, she constantly compares herself to her also overtly sexual friend - Melanie, even her own mother is portrayed negatively. I might expect this from some authors, but not Gayle Forman. I also didn't expect Forman to be all tell and no show with Willem's characterization. Apparently he's charming, but I never saw any evidence of it.

The second half appealed to me more because I could understand and appreciate a story about a young woman suffering from depression more than I could understand and appreciate a story about a poor little rich girl who discovered the big wide world wasn't as sparkly as it looked from her mansion window. I thought this second part of the book was realistic and sad - really touching in parts. I especially loved the Shakespeare parallels and the whole theme of pretending to be someone you're not... and how maybe that pretense is as much a part of you as the person you are the rest of the time.

By the time the ending rolled around, I was stood there right in the middle of the story with Allyson. My heart was pounding with dread and anticipation at what she would find. I finished it knowing that no matter how much Willem didn't float my boat, I would still have to read the sequel just to find out what happens. Because I cared. And I suppose that made the earlier disappointment worth it.

Blog | Leafmarks | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr
Profile Image for jessica.
2,535 reviews32.6k followers
February 11, 2019
*cue ‘anna and the french kiss’ flashbacks*

not that the two books are super similar, just that they invoked the same feeling. which is that, by the end, i became more interested/invested in the setting of the story than the story itself.

gayle forman does a truly wonderful job at transporting the reader to NYC, paris, london, and amsterdam. her writing is so full of life and culture, really doing the cities justice. this is honestly the perfect book to read during the summer when you get that wanderlust feeling. but everything else just fell a little flat for me. which is a shame because i really wanted to love everything about this.

and its honestly just a lot of little things here and there which caused me to feel pretty ‘meh’ about this. i didnt quite feel a spark between allyson and willem, i was pretty indifferent about allysons first year at college, and im not really into the whole vibe willem gained by the end of the book.

i mean, we only get allysons version of events with this book so i might read the sequel at some point, with the hope that it will help fill in the blanks and i can be able to appreciate this book more. but until i get both sides of the story, im left feeling a little underwhelmed with just allysons half. :/

3 stars
Profile Image for  ⊱ Sonja ⊰ ❤️.
2,299 reviews409 followers
February 14, 2023
Dieses Buch lag so lange auf meinem SUB; jetzt war es mal an der Zeit, es endlich zu lesen.
Vielleicht bin ich mittlerweile zu alt für diese Art von Geschichten, aber der Funke ist nicht so wirklich übergesprungen bei mir. Die Geschichte war okay, aber richtig gepackt hat sie mich halt leider nicht.
Auch ist es für mich schwer vorstellbar, dass man an jemanden so hängen kann, den man eigentlich gar nicht wirklich kennt.
Nichtsdestotrotz hat mich die Geschichte aber gut unterhalten können, wenn sie auch hin und wieder etwas zu langatmig für mich war.
Gut gefallen hat mir allerdings die Entwicklung von Allyson. Ich denke, in diesem einen Jahr ist sie reifer geworden. Das Ende ist natürlich sehr offen, was ich eigentlich nicht mag, aber irgendwie passt es hier.
Profile Image for Tatiana.
1,401 reviews11.7k followers
December 13, 2012
As seen on The Readventurer

Just One Day is a story of self-discovery sandwiched between the romance-heavy beginning and end, two stories in one if you will. High school graduate Allyson meets an amateur Dutch actor Willem during her post-HS culture tour of Europe and with a spontaneity unnatural to her throws away all her caution and embarks on a day trip to Paris with him. They spend a day (and night) together, and then it's over, abruptly. Allyson goes back home then, starts college and succumbs to ennui. Her already depressed state is made even more severe by hardships in college, intense helicopter parenting and lack of friends. But her experiences during that one day in Paris eventually encourage her to change her life in a major way and go back to Paris...

Melancholy. Sad. Depressing. These are the words that were constantly on my mind while reading Just One Day. I am not sure a tone like this can work for me for an entire romance story. I obviously like some drama, if I enjoyed Forman's very tragic previous novels (If I Stay and Where She Went), but even those books were based on a love story that started out as charming, happy, romantic, swoony. In Just One Day, on the other hand, it's all doom and gloom and sadness, from the beginning till the very end. I am sure I would have liked Just One Day more if the romance were more uplifting, interesting. I found it hard to care for Allyson and Willem. Allyson is a dull, passive narrator. Willem lacks charisma, charm, sexiness, humor even. Their one day in Paris is not romantic or fun in any way. I attribute my negative impression of this day trip to the flashbacks of Taken running through my mind and my concern for Allyson's safety, and to the general grimness of the whole European adventure. (While I do not doubt the accuracy of Forman's depiction of Europe, this depiction is just depressing, to exactly match the novel's overall dark mood. How can one be so miserable in a midst of so much diversity, culture, excitement and freedom? I don't get it.) If I had the experiences in Paris Allyson had in this novel, I would have considered such extended date a complete failure and a waste of time, and nobody would have gotten laid by the end of it. But this one day has a great effect on Allyson, and this part of the novel I never quite accepted or understood.

Because I mostly felt indifferent towards the romance frame of this self-discovery story, the middle portion of the book felt more compelling to me. It is especially compelling if you are looking for books with those notorious "new adult" experiences - exploration of life after high school, learning how to be independent from your parents, choosing an educational path that suits you and not people around you, finding new friends, getting your first job. I liked most of this middle, except maybe the part where Allyson handles her schooling - I don't believe that taking pottery classes instead of pre-med classes while your parents are paying $40K a year for your school is a responsible and mature thing to do, even if it makes you happy. (My philosophy is - don't trifle with other people's money, you can get your pottery classes for $80 at your local community college.) But Allyson's struggles with her parents and her diving into new friendships were the highlights for me.

It is hard to give this book a fair assessment, because so much of my dissatisfaction with this novel rests on my personal taste in YA romance, college experiences and overall attitude to life. On a technical level, Just One Day is well written. For me as an opinionated reader, however, this story felt lackluster, with its unjustified main character's ennui, realistic, but grim portrayal of various European countries and unconvincing romance. I would pick Anna and the French Kiss over this novel any day. It's just much, much more fun. There HAS to be some fun in any romance, am I right?
Profile Image for Wendy Darling.
1,576 reviews33.9k followers
February 3, 2013
4.5 stars I don't know how this author consistently writes such beautifully crafted stories of personal growth, but the level of emotional maturity in this one just astounds me.

But sheesh, what a place to stop the story! Can't wait for the next book this fall.
Profile Image for Thomas.
1,463 reviews8,572 followers
February 2, 2013
Are you looking for a whimsical romance filled with love songs and fiery kisses? Are you searching for a story with constant adventure, brimming with beauty and overflowing with passion?

If so, stop. Just One Day is not one of those books. It is not shallow. It is not like Anna and the French Kiss. It is beautiful, but in a bittersweet, lyrical, and oftentimes melancholy way. This is a book for people who have ever felt lost, for those who know what it feels like to be unsure of who they are, or of who they want to be.

After her senior year of high school, good girl Allyson Healey embarks on a journey to Europe. Except it’s not really a journey at all, or even a trip – just a boring tour with her blond best friend Melanie. That is until she sees a magical performance of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and one of the actors flips her coin. By chance she encounters this actor – Willem – again on a train, but their relationship turns an entirely different direction when she decides to spend a day with him in Paris. There she becomes Lulu, an adventurous soul with no reservations, and she discovers a side of herself with Willem she comes to love in less than 24 hours. But the next day she wakes up and Willem is gone. Allyson spends the next year struggling to find herself, who she thought she was, and who she’s turning out to be.

If New Adult becomes a tangible genre in the realm of fiction, this is what it needs to be like. Just One Day is not a sexual love story. Depending on how you define the concept, it might not even be a love story at all. It encompasses all of the emotions associated with coming of age, going back and forth between growth, angst, hope, and sadness.

Reading Just One Day reminded me why I loved Gayle Forman’s first book, If I Stay. Like I’ve tried to repeat in this review, it’s not your typical love story where the protagonists meet, slowly fall in love, have a falling out, get back together, and live happily ever after. It’s far from that. Allyson thinks she comes close to finding herself after one day with Willem, but breaks apart once he’s gone. Her character screams of vulnerability, insecurity, and nuance, but has that spark of relatability and that whisper of strength that urges you to cheer her on. The other characters in the book: Allyson’s helicopter mom, her well-meaning yet lacking best friend, the shape-shifting black student she meets at college, etc. are all finely developed and feel strikingly real.

Forman’s writing blew me away too. She described France, Holland, and each and every one of Allyson’s experiences richly and completely. Her attention to subtle details within her characters’ dialogue and actions as well as her pacing of the story did more than satisfy me. While this isn’t a dark, dangerous action-adventure novel its progression through Allyson’s bildungsroman backed by its sheer emotional maturity makes it one of the best realistic fiction books I’ve read.

There are numerous themes that come together to form Just One Day. But my favorite has to be that of identity and discovering the truth about oneself. By the end of this book Allyson hasn’t just found herself after that one tragic day. She’s created herself, and I can’t wait to see where Forman takes her and Willem next.

*review cross-posted on my blog, the quiet voice.
Profile Image for Hailey (Hailey in Bookland).
611 reviews87.5k followers
June 12, 2015
I really, really loved this, much more than I had anticipated. I didn't enjoy If I Stay as much as everyone else seems to and I read The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight and didn't really enjoy it and this book is pretty similar, but it wasn't just a love story, it had so much more depth to it.
I loved the pivotal role Shakespeare played in the story and how his plays all tied into the identity struggle Allyson was having. The love story was also insta love but not annoyingly so. It just kind of made sense as Allyson was trying to be this impulsive, wild child that was the exact opposite of she really is. Her identity struggle gave the story so much depth and it just made for one of those contemporaries that's packed with meaning yet also has a great romance. Just a great book overall, I'll probably do a review soon on my channel.
Profile Image for Sarah Elizabeth.
4,728 reviews1,279 followers
July 22, 2015

"Why are you making a bucket list then?"
"Because if you wait until you're really dying, it's too late."

I really liked this book! Which is quite shocking considering that I really didn’t like ‘If I Stay’/’Where She Went’.

Allyson made some bad decisions in this book, and as a parent you would want to ground her for life. Jumping on a train to Paris with a man she’d only just met? Leaving her suitcase with someone she doesn’t know (who could plant a bomb in it)? Not telling anyone where she was or what she would be doing? And the list goes on. I’ll admit that she was acting on lust, but things could have worked out really badly. She’s lucky she didn’t end up dead.

"So, Lulu? What do you say? You want to go to Paris? For just one day?"

Anyway, putting Allyson’s craziness to one side, I did enjoy this book, and I liked the mystery over exactly what happened.

8 out of 10

Anybody else want to learn French and go to Paris now?
Profile Image for Siena Mirabella.
62 reviews6,681 followers
July 3, 2017
I enjoyed this book! Definitely not what I expected but I'm pleasantly surprised. I really did enjoy the story line and progression. The character development was amazing. Although, I found myself skimming a bit during the middle due to the fact that I felt that some parts just dragged on. However, the last several chapters were fantastic which made up for it!
Profile Image for Ari.
727 reviews20 followers
January 30, 2013
My reaction upon finishing this book: Son of a...

The book started off great at first, it was easy to get into. And then I got bored and wanted to "solve the mystery" of what went wrong, plus I was tired of the main character being so annoyingly mopey... so I started speed reading. And then skimming. And then finally I had jumped to the end... And it was over. No real answers to any of the questions. Just a blatant, "buy the sequel to have any sort of resolution to this book". Which I think is pretty lame. Books should have a real ending, even if they are just part 1 of whatever...

I probably should go back and actually read all the pages that I skimmed but I wasn't enjoying them when I was invested in the book and how I'm too aggravated to want to read them. Grr.
Profile Image for Steph Sinclair.
461 reviews11.1k followers
January 27, 2013
I'm really starting to think I need to spend more time in the Contemporary genre. While I'm there I might as well finally read If I Stay and Where She Went. Yes, I can't believe I haven't read them yet either. No, I'm not sure what my malfunction is. But what I am sure of is how happy I am to have finally read a Gayle Forman novel. Just One Day came complete with a charming cast of characters, Parisian backdrop and such a relatable coming of age story.

Right from the start I knew I would love this book. Allyson reminds me so much of my younger self. She's unsure of herself, follows the rules to the T, is more focused on the approval of other around her verses what she wants, etc. I'm sure we could all relate to feeling that way at one point in our lives and that's what made this book real for me. While Allyson is traveling Europe with her teen tour group, she stumbles across Willem, who seems to be the opposite of herself. So for just one day, Allyson decides take a few chances, takes up the alter ego "Lulu" and becomes the spontaneous traveler.

I totally get that. Sometimes you just want to take a page from Nike and JUST DO IT. Even still today, I get those urges of just letting go and let live. But then, the next thing I know things have gotten so widely out of control.


And soon after, I'm once again craving my comfort box.

comfort box

But enough about me...

What I loved about Just One Day is how Allyson both loses herself that day in Paris and later finds herself over the course of a year afterwards. When all is said and done and she has to resume her life after being left by Willem, she's broken, a mere shadow of who she thought she was. I think it was there that I truly started to connect with Allyson on a deeper level. Here we have a former honor student struggling to get by in her college courses, struggling to keep former relationships intact and struggling at making new ones. What I found most interesting is that it's not her relationship with Willem that metaphorically heals her, but the secondary characters she meets at college. How often do we read in YA novels the male heart-throb being the catalyst for change in the heroine? Too often, in my opinion. Allyson's change is gradual and is due to various people and experiences, most of which have nothing to do with Willem. Ya know, pretty much how life is supposed to work.

I went into this story expecting some sort of fluffy romantic contemporary novel, but I guess I should have known it wouldn't be that simple. I suppose that's what I get for being fashionably late to the Gayle Forman party. *dons her party hat* What I got was a novel that really examines that feeling of uncertainty of who we choose to be, how others perceive us, and how those two situations are sometimes mutually exclusive. The feeling of enlightenment I had with Just One Day was very similar to how I felt while reading Wanderlove, which also features a girl searching for answers, but ends up finding so much more.

Then, of course, you have the fantastic setting of Paris. I've always wanted to go to Paris and one day I intend to. But while I was reading, it was so easy to visualize the french cafes, the old buildings, the culture. This is the second travel type novel I've read and it's a wonderful change in scenery. High school angst vs. Europe. I think we know who wins that round.

If there is one thing I have to nitpick, it'd be the ending. Not that it was bad, but I think it has more to do with personal tastes. It's also where I found myself conflicted. Right after finishing Just One Day, I felt I needed more, that I wasn't completely satisfied with the ending. I wanted her to find Willem and to figure out what happened. But on further reflection I realized something. This wasn't about Willem. It was about Allyson finding herself. So clever, Forman. But I still want to know what happens after that door opens. So, I think it goes without saying that I'll be needing Just One Year. Heh.

I love novels that take me away from the usual and make me think. Just One Day was just what I needed. Refreshing, humorous and deep.

ARC was received from the publisher for and honest review. Thank you, PenguinTeen!

More reviews and other fantastical things at Cuddlebuggery Book Blog.
Profile Image for ♥Rachel♥.
1,857 reviews847 followers
December 8, 2012
After reading and loving If I Stay and Where She Went by Gayle Forman, I was thrilled to hear Ms. Forman was working on a new novel, Just One Day. Just One Day was a bittersweet story that entranced me, took hold of my heart, and gave it a great big squeeze! My heart still aches.

Allyson is almost to the end of her graduation present, a three week trip touring Europe. She’s spent the time speed traveling through Europe, and is now in London on the last leg of the trip. On a whim and an accident, she meets charismatic Willem, a Dutch actor at the end of his tour performing the Shakespearian play, Twelfth Night. There is an instant connection and attraction. When he finds out that Allyson missed Paris and is about to travel home without seeing it, he insists she go there with him as her guide. Normally Allyson would never do such a thing. Break her plans, and do something spur of the moment and with a total stranger? No way. But the past few weeks of let down and disappointment from her trip have worn her down, and she’s ready to take a leap into the unknown. They spend an amazing and strange day together, and an incredible night, but when Allyson wakes, Willem is gone and left no clue where to find him.

Shattered, she goes home and tries to plunge into college but she just can’t shake the pain. Added to that, Allyson is enrolled in classes basically picked by her mother as a pre-med student. That one day doing as she pleased in Paris, had more of a profound effect on her than she realized, and she just can’t stomach going along with other’s expectations anymore.

This story broke my heart! The first third of the book had a dreamy but achy quality to it, because she’s spending this amazing but intense day with Willem, and you know it won’t last. She’s going home, and so is he, but I didn’t expect for him to just up and leave her! At that point on Allyson basically goes through a big depression and I felt like I went through it with her. As heartbreaking as the experience was, doing the unexpected was liberating for Allyson, and soon she starts to question what she really wants out of life.

I felt so bad for Allyson, I felt like she was bullied by her mother and her “friend,” Melanie. Spending time with these two sucked the confidence and will right out of her. I really couldn’t stand Melanie. At the beginning of the trip she was nothing but an attention hog, and put Allyson down continually. The mother was another character I couldn’t stand. She poured her own expectations into Allyson instead of letting her find what was right for her. I hate to say this, but I didn’t like Willem for most of the book either, and it seemed the more I found out about him, the more I hated him. However, hold that thought and don’t let that sway you too much against him. There is more to his story. Still, it wasn’t enough for me to like him,..…..yet. I’m hoping I see a completely different side of things from him in the next book, which apparently is in his POV. I hope to find out that appearances were misleading. I hope this for Allyson, and well, for me too! You know me, I want that happy ending.

Don’t read this if you haven’t read If I Stay. I have to think back to my feelings when I read it, and remember that for most of the story I had this achy feeling, as well. Yes, Adam and Mia loved each other, but looming ahead of them were their futures, which were about to take a very different and separate path. Even without the accident, they had a tough road ahead, and I kept wondering how things were going to work. This was multiplied tenfold when I started Where She Went and found out what happened! But tsk, tsk, ye of little faith (yes, that was me). Of course Gayle Forman made it right, and the heartbreak only made the end SO MUCH SWEETER! So I HAVE to believe this is what she will do here. Work her magic and heal my heart. We shall see. I will leave off with a swoony quote to soothe some of the heartache:

“As if disconnected to the rest of my body, my hand raises in the air and goes to touch his cheek. But before it arrives, Willem’s hand whips around and grabs my wrist. For one confused second, I think I’ve misread the situation again, am about to be refused. Willem holds my wrist for a long moment, looking at that birthmark. Then he lifts it to his mouth. And though his lips are soft and his kiss is gentle, it feels like a knife jamming into the electrical socket. It feels like the moment I go live.”*

Quotes are taken from an uncorrected proof and may change in the final copy.

You can read this review and more at The Readers Den.
Profile Image for KAS.
317 reviews3,130 followers
January 19, 2018
Exceptional author and loved this duet!
Profile Image for Jasprit.
527 reviews749 followers
February 11, 2013
Post reading thoughts: Oh gosh this book just took my heart and stomped all over it. I need Just One Year now! Full review to come once I've got all my feelings in check.

Please excuse my meagre attempt at gathering my chaotic thoughts and trying to write a coherent review, but Just One Day just evoked so many different emotions within me. So many books come around that leave just a deep lasting impression and without a doubt Just One Day is one of those books.

Allyson was meant to be on trip of her life in Europe, but it didn’t have that life changing effect as she was hoping. Her best friend Mel kept encouraging her to enjoy herself and make the most out of it. But Allyson wasn’t like Mel, constantly taking risks; the only big risk Allyson had taken so far was cut her hair to a bob. But on their last night in London on their tour, Allyson and Mel decide not to follow the rules and watch a different production of a play and that’s where she meets Willem, she knows there’s something about him as soon as their eyes meet in the pit of her stomach. The next day when she meets him on the train, she makes a spur of the moment decision to travel to Paris with him for just one day. He’s a complete stranger but Allyson finds herself wanting to take this chance and do something normal Allyson wouldn’t do.

This one day ends up being an epitome of what her entire trip in Europe was meant to be about. Willem tries to encapsulate the beautiful experience of Paris for Allyson, but she ends up with leaving more than she bargained for, that would affect her whole outlook on life months later, returning to the US Allyson is a changed person.

The last time I felt so much love for a book was when I read Gayle Forman’s Where She Went in Just One Day. Just One Day had the same achy, raw lingering effect on me but it was that much more profound. It was like I was on my own journey of discovery and growth with Allyson, I was led to believe so much about Willem that I felt the same amount of fury and heartache that Allyson did. When she was lost and hurt afterwards and when she finally started doing things for herself instead of being dictated at her whole entire life. I felt like Andy Murray at Wimbledon getting pumped up by the crowd and continually pumping my fist. (And I never do this) It’s like Gayle had this magical wand when writing this book and just knew how to push your buttons that I found myself so involved with Allyson’s life that I wanted so much for her to get her happy ending.

Allyson’s personal growth over the course of the book was so admirable it was like she was shedding her skin until she finally found the real Allyson underneath. I liked watching her friendships blossom especially with Dee (I wasn’t really a fan of Mel), take the courage to do what she wanted and knew she had to in her heart.

Willem was a complete enigma, at times I was never sure who the real Willem was, I thought I was able to get glances of him, but he was quick to cover up his true feelings. But like Allyson I wasn’t able to resist his charms. I like how there’s so many complicated layers to this guy, so much we haven’t touched upon and I am beyond eager at unravelling all this mystery when we get his pov in Just One Year.

Gayle Forman has once again created such a heartbreaking realistic read that resonated with me. For me she has taken her writing up in a whole another notch from Where She Went, I found myself constantly highlighting my favourite quotes (which was pretty much the entire book) and re-reading favourite passages over and over again.

This journey that I was able to take with Allyson over the course of this beautiful book will be one I won’t forget.
Profile Image for Hira.
153 reviews395 followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
July 12, 2018

PS: If the book's coming out in 2013, then the world will obviously not end in 2012, pff.
Profile Image for Mackenzie Lane.
235 reviews2,112 followers
February 4, 2019
Lol soooooo this is gonna be interesting. Suffice it to say, I don't really care for Just One Day.
Or Allyson. Or Willem.

My biggest issue, and the source of all my problems with the book, is the instalove. DO NOT even try to tell me this book doesn't have instalove, because it does, and the fact that it takes place in PARIS, a city I would very much like to visit someday because of my undying love and adoration for it, really ticked me off. Like, Allyson and Willem's "love affair" should've taken place in a dumpster for all the value it added to the overall story of Allyson's "coming-of-age" character arc.

And what was up with Willem only ever calling Allyson "Lulu" JUST BECAUSE he thought she looked like some actress named Louise Brooks, and SHE WENT ALONG WITH IT?? Because she thought by being called a different name, she'd therefore be someone different? *eye rolling, but the eye roll that actually kind of strains your eyes for a few painful seconds*

So, if you couldn't gather by the title, Allyson spends a day in Paris with Willem, a boy she just met the night before after watching him perform in a traveling Shakespeare acting group. She literally had no idea who he was before, not even a friend of a friend of a friend. Like, no clue.
And after their *amazing* day together, he's gone by the time she wakes up (after having slept together in an art studio & also where "a condom materializes" - pg. 128 of Just One Day) and Allyson not only refuses to get over Willem, but cries the whole way home and for the next year. Pretty much. I mean, until she goes back to Paris looking for him. I mean, can you fault someone for such persistence? Lol sure looks like I am.

Now, the end is actually my favorite part of the book. And by favorite, I mean the part I found least annoying. Well, until that asinine cliff-hanger.... But her exploring Paris without Willem, was better than when she was there with him, even if she was only in Paris a second time to search for Willem.

Here are some brief examples of what helped this story fall flat for me:

- Willem licks Allyson's blood from his own finger. ONLY KNEW EACH OTHER FOR A DAY, FOLKS. disgusting and repulsive, it was. sexy and alluring, it was not.
- The chase scene after Allyson hits a random dude in the head with a book because she "instinctively" knew they were trouble after seeing girls scream bloody murder in their presence. And the fact that Allyson and Willem outran them. This was a highly unlikely scene, and the absurdity of it all made me yell about it to my mom, to whom I am most sorry. But she agreed with me, so there.
- "...stopping to drink at the pool of my clavicle..." - pg. 127. If there's a more unappealing way of writing a first kiss/make-out/sex scene (because they do all of the above in one go), I'd be flabbergasted. I mean, calling it a "collarbone" would be a slight improvement, but not a substantial one.
- "Willem gives me that look of his..." - pg. 90 What look of his? Need I remind you, Allyson/Lulu, YOU HAVE JUST MET THIS BOY. There is absolutely no way you know his looks. That's something people only pick up on with time. Unfortunately, that's the one thing the author couldn't grant you & Willem, and the only thing that would've made this entire freaking story believable. No lie, if Allyson & Willem would've spent at least a week together, I probably would have loved the crap out of this book. Eh...maybe.
- THE YEAR WITHOUT WILLEM. Literally Allyson spent all her time/money/effort/ and all her friends' time/money/effort to search for Willem because she couldn't just MOVE ON. And when any supporting character was spouting truth at Allyson, she'd brush it off & continue in her perpetual state of grief. Honestly, I found Dee, Melanie, and Wren the best characters this book had to offer. I want a book about Wren's travels, with flashbacks to when Francesca was still alive. And Winston seemed promising and supportive! At least Wren knew Winston for longer than a freaking day!
- The incessant talk of "electricity". I would love to get a word count of "electric" or "electricity" in this book. I'd be shocked if it wasn't used at least 50 times.

By the end, Allyson has "found herself", but I couldn't help remembering she did all of this because of a boy. she. only. knew. for. just. one. day.
August 18, 2019
"We are born in one day. We die in one day. We can change in one day. And we can fall in love in one day. Anything can happen in just one day”.

Este libro es de las cosas más lindas y a la vez frustrantes de la vida. Aquí tenemos la historia de Allyson, una chica que ha vivido siempre complaciendo a sus padres y tomando cada decisión que ellos creen que es la correcta. Justo antes de irse a la universidad, le regalan un viaje por Europa con su mejor amiga, pero el tour no está siendo para nada lo que ella creía. En uno de los últimos días, Melanie y ella deciden escaparse de la chaperona del tour e ir a una obra de teatro callejera de Shakespeare. Allí conocen a un chico guapísimo e interesante, pero nada sucede. Sin embargo, al día siguiente se vuelven a encontrar y Willem convence a Allyson de ir a pasar un día con él a París. Allyson, creyéndose LuLu, una chica desenfadada y a la que le gusta tomar riesgos, dice que sí. Y así es como empieza la aventura más idílica y preciosa que puedan imaginarse en París, el problema es que cuando Allyson se despierta al día siguiente ve que Willem la ha abandonado.

No se imaginan lo feliz que fui leyendo toda la primera parte del libro... Una vez has estado todo el día con Willem y Allyson paseando por París, conociendo rincones ocultos, riéndote de bromas privadas, yendo a lugares a los que un turista normal nunca iría y sintiendo lo intensa que es la conexión que se está creando... bueno, después de todo eso, es imposible no creer en todo lo que puede pasar en sólo un día.

Al igual que Allyson, para mí fue muy difícil dejar de lado la imagen de Willem como un conquistador y un playboy. Pero cuando Willem empieza a hablar de los accidentes, de las casualidades y de cómo es diferente enamorarse que estar enamorado es un poco más fácil dejarte llevar por el ambiente parisino, por las oportunidades y la serendipia de los momentos.

Ahora, la segunda parte del libro fue otra cosa completamente. Es muy duro leer cómo Allyson se estrella contra una pared de concreto enorme llamada "realidad". Y es peor aún ver cómo, de nuevo, cae bajo la vida tan controlada que tienen sus padres para ella. Gayle Forman logra plasmar de una manera tremendamente real cómo se siente el haber sido decepcionada, el creer que todo lo malo te lo buscaste tú solita y el estar deprimida. Pero lo mejor de esta segunda parte es que no se queda en Allyson revolcándose en su miseria, sino que en un punto vuelve a tomar el control de su vida, rompe las cadenas en la que la tienen sus padres y decide arriesgarse a buscar las respuestas que le permitirán seguir adelante.

Del final sólo diré que menos mal esto es una bilogía porque me daría algo si terminara todo de esa manera.
Profile Image for Bonnie.
1,372 reviews920 followers
February 8, 2017
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
A copy of Just One Day was provided to me by Dutton/Penguin Group (USA) for review purposes.

'We are born in one day. We die in one day. We can change in one day. And we can fall in love in one day. Anything can happen in just one day.'

Admittedly, I do believe I started this when I was in the completely wrong sort of mood. I totally killed this story for myself in the beginning and could not get into it. I was mentally flashing to scenes from 'Taken' and kept waiting for her to start using her brain and NOT get on the train with the complete stranger BY HERSELF to PARIS where she's never been before, barely has any money, and can't speak the language. I can understand getting caught up in the moment and feeling a connection to someone so much that you just lose yourself in the moment... but this was just downright reckless and so potentially dangerous that it sucked all enjoyment out of it for me.

Allyson was such a strange and unrealistic narrator. Always the smart girl, the girl who played it safe, and then she meets Willem and he unlocks a side of her that she herself didn't know existed. Allyson had been on a tour of Europe for several weeks but had never got to see Paris, so he asks for her to go with him there. And this is where I get even MORE disturbed. They have one single day in Paris and it ended up being the most random, jumbled and seemingly unenjoyable day. So it wasn't the type of day spent in Paris like you see in the movies but they didn't even DO anything! So much beauty surrounded them and for part of it they ended up taking a nap in the park? Are you kidding me? If I had a single day in Paris and I needed to nap I'd be pounding the red bulls and trying to get the most I could out of that day.

'We kiss again. This next kiss is the kind that breaks open the sky. It steals my breath and gives it back. It shows me that every other kiss I've had in my life has been wrong.'

I’m not saying that it’s impossible to meet someone and only after a single day they have somehow managed to change a piece of you forever. I believe that can happen; I’ve felt it. But I didn’t feel it while reading this and I was left dumbfounded and confused to what Willem did exactly to evoke such a long-lasting reaction. I just didn’t’ believe it strongly enough. My other issue was with the fact that she attributed this other her, “Lulu”, as a result of being with Willem. It was disheartening to see her give up that new her just because he disappeared. I would have liked to see her take the situation for what it was: a life lesson that opened her eyes to how different she could live her life and actually enjoy it in the process. But instead she crawled deeper into her shell than she had before.

The Ending. Spoilers! For real. Don't click.

Of course I have to read the follow-up because it’s obvious that Allyson was lacking in answers and I can only hope we receive some resolution (that is logical too) from Willem’s side of things. And hello cliffhanger, thanks for that. Not terribly pleased with the story itself but there’s really no denying it, Gayle Forman can write one entrancing story.

*All quotes taken are from an uncorrected proof*

319 reviews1,884 followers
January 24, 2013
Actual Rating: 4.5 stars

Quite a few months ago, in my early reviewing days, when I was just a new face in the world of reviewing and book blogging, I read a book called Die for Me. Although it had an interesting and original premise (which, ultimately, was revealed to be poorly executed), a pretty cover, and some mixed to positive reviews from friends of mine, the main reason I really wanted to read Die for Me was because it took place in Paris, and I'd hoped that the author would take advantage of such a wonderful and rich setting. Unfortunately, the most background of Paris the author provided us readers with in Die for Me was the Metro and a few coffee shops. Maybe a lake or two. Some really great details of Paris in that book, you guys.

Since then, I've been wary of books taking place in Paris. Until, however, Just One Day appeared on my feed. Written by an incredibly hyped author and receiving rave early reviews, I figured that Forman could do no wrong with the beautiful Paris.

And I was right.

I'd gone into Just One Day with expectations of heartbreak, high levels of swoon, awe-worthy prose and a strong, overwhelming desire to hop on a plane to Paris immediately. And while all of those expectations were met, and in fact exceeded, I came across quite a few surprises along the way - such as the fact that Just One Day is filled with truly hysterical passages and moments - which I don't say very often about books, especially not about books in the YA genre, considering the fact that I have the sense of humor that will have me inevitably burning in hell, and most YA novels don't cross that particular boundary to meet my sense of humor - and the fact that I'd be so engaged with Allyson and Willem's travels in such a short amount of time.

Allyson was, for the most part, an awesome and incredibly witty character, and in the end, I am definitely able to say that I enjoyed reading in her perspective and seeing her character meet such a large amount of growth throughout the course of the novel. While she did, at times, get on my nerves - most notably how she got jealous whenever a girl looked at Willem, or whenever a girl talked to Willem after knowing him for just one day (oh look, I've used the title of the book in my review! This is almost as exciting as when the title of a movie is spoken in said movie.), she eventually ended up winning me over once again with her wit and snark. Willem was also an amazing character, and while he wasn't met with very much growth at all throughout the course of Just One Day, I thoroughly enjoyed the scenes where he opened up to Allyson - however slightly - about his home life, even after knowing her for such a short period of time.

Charming, often hysterical, with some great characters, equally as great relationship dynamics, and a clever incorporation of Shakespeare, Just One Day is not a novel to be missed for anyone looking for a quick and incredibly fun read that makes you feel like you're roaming the streets of Paris. If you had asked me before reading this novel if two people can fall in love in just one day, I probably would have lectured you about the vast difference between lust and love, but after reading this novel and experiencing the relationship that is Allyson and Willem's firsthand, my opinion may have been swayed.
Profile Image for Arlene.
1,156 reviews641 followers
January 11, 2013
Rating Clarification: 3.5 Stars

“We are born in one day. We die in one day. We can change in one day. And we can fall in love in one day. Anything can happen in just one day.” This is a quote from an uncorrected proof.

Just One Day by Gayle Forman is what I would consider a worthy start to what I truly believe will have an epic continuation. This book delivered in all the ways Forman knows how, which is a great premise, a likable cast and a primer for a promising part two. I think the early readers of If I Stay will agree with me when I say we never considered the possibility that Forman would deliver a second installment to her beloved novel. I, for one, was ecstatic to hear she would continue Mia’s story, and when I stumbled upon the final pages of Where She Went, I was left with a feeling of pure bliss and cemented fandom for this author’s stories.

To hear she was coming out with a new novel, Just One Day, had me pulling out my dancing shoes and running in circles in pure excitement. When an author earns your attention and continues to deliver greatness, there seems to be an assumed allegiance that earns them a guaranteed audience. I can comfortably declare that with a handful of authors such as Marchetta, Dessen, Green to name a few, Forman has me at “Hello.”

Just One Day tells us the story of Allyson Healey who is suppose to be enjoying a life changing experience as she travels Europe with her best friend Melanie the summer before they both start college. As the trip progresses, Allyson struggles to find enjoyment in the trip until she comes across a Shakespearian Dutch actor, Willem, who sweeps her off her feet and delivers one of the most memorable days she could wish for. That changing event comes to a devastating halt when she wakes up the following morning to find he’s gone and left no means of contacting him. She returns home and goes on to start college, but she can’t seem to move past the shock of having come so close to happiness to only see it slip through her fingers.

I have to admit I struggled to like Allyson and Willem for a portion of the novel. However, I think that was a bit purposeful on Forman’s part because if she shows all of her cards early on, the possibilities of where the story can go is cut short. I remember feeling the same way about Mia in the second installment of Where She Went, but I have to commend Forman for challenging her readers to keep an open mind, don’t jump to conclusions and consider the possibilities. I recommend that to those who read this novel. Despite what you deduce of these two characters, don’t sell them short because as you peel away the layers of this intricate story, you’ll find a whole new element ready to reveal itself.

In addition, the story somewhat left me craving for more secondary character time. There were a couple of hidden gems I wanted to learn more about including Dee and Wren. I felt like I was just getting to know Dee and his story when he was suddenly placed on the sidelines. The same felt true for Wren, so I’m looking forward to revisiting these two sometime soon.

I appreciated the themes Forman weaved into her novel around self awareness, growth and the pain of losing the possibility of what could have been. Those are topics that seem to always resonate with me, and Forman is great at delivering valuable considerations that shouldn’t be ignored.

Overall, as much as I liked this book to a certain degree, I’m more excited to see where it will lead with the next installment when Willam takes the stage in Just One Year. Good book that her fans are sure to enjoy!
Profile Image for Fenia.
254 reviews458 followers
October 29, 2014
This book is...theraputic. Its a journey. and you come out of it like a different person. Like Allyson. Gayle Forman writes differently in each of her books which is quite magnificent!!! Her characters are all unique but you can relate to them so easily!!

Just One Day is NOT about just one day. Its about what happens after that one day. I love love love it!!! The ending leaves you a bit in a 'what just happened?' but at the same time you don't really need to know. because everything will work out now. Though i DO want to read 'Just one year' so i'll know what the freaking hell has Willem being doing all this time xD It reminded me of 'Before Sunrise' and then 'Serendipity' and then 'Eat,Pray,Love' all of them amazing movies :D ♥

Brilliant,real,motivating,beautiful,sad,hopeful..i can keep on going. JUST READ IT. ♥
Profile Image for Laura.
471 reviews558 followers
July 21, 2015

“But I’m also starting to wonder something else. If maybe the point of this crazy quest I’m on wasn’t to help me find Willem. Maybe it was to help me find someone else entirely.”

Blurb: When sheltered American good girl Allyson "LuLu" Healey first meets laid-back Dutch actor Willem De Ruiter at an underground performance of Twelfth Night in England, there’s an undeniable spark. After just one day together, that spark bursts into a flame, or so it seems to Allyson, until the following morning, when she wakes up after a whirlwind day in Paris to discover that Willem has left. Over the next year, Allyson embarks on a journey to come to terms with the narrow confines of her life, and through Shakespeare, travel, and a quest for her almost-true-love, to break free of those confines.


And I finally did it. It took me more than a year since I bought the book to actually read it. I didn’t want to. So much has changed in my life since I got this book and I hadn’t been able to read it. Didn’t feel like I could but part of moving on is facing small things, difficult things, that make every day a bit harder and that’s what I’m doing. I’m proud of me and that’s a wonderful feeling.

Now, boy, I did have such a hard time reading this book. I mean, I really enjoyed Forman’s storytelling, it’s beautiful, straight to the point, clear and full of meaning. But, there was this factor I couldn’t like and it took me 75% of the book to say “you know, you’re not that bad after all” and that was Allyson.

Not liking one of the MCs or the main MC and the one who’s telling the story, well, that’s a real deal breaker for me but I kept reading. I wasn’t going to give up and I’m glad I didn’t because, even though it took me a lot of time to like Allyson, I could relate to some things, feelings and situations and, in the end, I knew that reading this book was going to help me see things differently. And just like it happened to Allyson, I realized a great deal about myself.

Let’s this party started!


First we have this girl named Allyson and her best friend Melanie and we’re told all about their trip to Europe. They’re starting college and this trip was a gift from Allyson’s parents. A lifetime experience. But, as the paragraphs go, we see how Allyson isn’t one to take risks. She lives her life as her parents dictate and she’s pretty much a pushover. Her friend Melanie is the wild one. The one who is adventurous and always tries to make Allyson to try new things. Their friendship was doomed from the beginning and it’s not because they’re different, no, it’s because what really kept them united was all the years they spent together.


Sometimes, when you know someone from a very long time, you just end up not knowing them at all. All these detail and precious information we gather when we’re getting to know someone, are somehow lost under the years. I think that’s what happened between the two of them. And going to different colleges just make that even clearer.

That doesn’t mean I liked Melanie, because I didn’t. I can’t like a person who’s always trying to do what they think is best for you whether you’re or not okay with it.

Friends are supposed to help you get through the bridge, not push you to the end and then say “you’re welcome”.

We’re swimming separately now. I get that. Maybe it’s just what you have to do to keep above water. But who knows? Maybe one day, we’ll climb out, grab hands, and jump again.

So, when Allyson meets Willem and she’s all enchanted and curious but cautious, yeah, I could see where that was coming from but I didn’t like so much how she went and decided to go to Paris with the guy she just met.
Sue me but I believe there are a lot of fucked up people in the world who can be whoever they want to be to get just what they want from people. But, let’s play along because I can somehow, maybe, yes forgive Allyson for that.
The whole day she spent with Willem was a really great day. They’re both quite different but they met halfway and they made it all work. She’s easy to jump to conclusions and he’s just so good at making people to stop and breathe. I had trouble with Allyson being so childish but her parents were so damn strict with her and all that control, well, I knew why she was the way she was. But as the day ends and shit happens, I didn’t know what to think.

Why did Willem leave?

Even if he didn’t feel the same way as Allyson, we got to know him as much as to consider him kind enough to not leave the girl alone in a strange city after they slept together.

So, who the fuck is Willem, then?

He’s this Dutch actor who believes that falling in love is not the same as being in love and that accidents, big or smalls, are what drive us to wherever we need to be.


He has a peculiar vision of the world and I can’t say I disagree with him. It all makes sense but still, he was, is, a great mystery. Why was he the way he was? Why was he so far from his home? Why didn’t he go back to Holland before? Is he running away?

Those same questions and more are the only thing Allyson can think. Oh, and the pain and misery she feels. The heartbreak. The feeling that she was more herself when she was with Willem for that one day than all these years.


I got she was mourning, not only for the way she’d been played but also for the Allyson she was when she was in Paris. The Allyson who was happy, carefree and real. But now she’s in college, being Pre-Med, no real friends and living a lie.

Sometimes, you can only feel something by its absence. By the empty space it leaves behind.

She’s utterly unhappy and it’s so painful to see I got annoyed rather quickly.
She was such a bitch. Not to people but to herself. She didn’t know how to handle things with her parents and she didn’t handle well what happened with Willem and now she’s alone in Boston and getting bad grades.

I know exactly how that feels like, so maybe that’s why I couldn’t stand the way she was coping with things and I had to remind myself that we all deal with our shit differently but she was just so stupid.

Why wasn’t she nicer to herself? She was really smart, she knew things were going to end at some point or she was going to end up living the life her parents wanted her to live. We know what we do, what we don’t and what we deserve and what we don’t so I think she just liked being like that so she didn’t have to make any decision.

I can’t be okay with that.


So, after a few breakdowns and family fights and arguments with Melanie, she started to see the fucking light and started to do shit by herself. Thank gods.

You know why I kept reading even though I didn’t like Allyson?
Because the book was really good. The changes, the people around Allyson, the situations, the feeling… All those things were exactly what she needed, what we needed to read because I think we can all relate to them. It’s a really general yet an important topic: finding yourself and be okay with it.

He showed me how to get lost, and then I showed myself how to get found.
Maybe accident isn’t the right word after all. Maybe miracle is.
Or maybe it’s not a miracle. Maybe this is just life. When you open yourself up to it. When you put yourself in the path of it. When you say yes.

It’s never late to start over and do things just for you. It’s never late to wake up and be different, if you want. Or be a different version of yourself, a better version, a version that makes you happy. And because the book delivered that it’s why I liked it.

Allyson was getting better, making old/new friends, facing their parents, learning what she likes, what she doesn’t like and then, making decisions.
Going back to Paris was a good call and I got happy what she worked her ass off and managed to do it. I liked how she worked things with her mom without giving ground away and I loved when she went to places because she wanted to. That’s what I wanted for her since the very start. Searching for Willem and for answers, took Allyson to meet new people, things and parts of her she didn’t know and what a wonderful thing it was.

The end of the book were both predictable and shocking. Like, what happens before the end were unexpected but the main thing wasn’t. So I’m both happy and mad for the way the book ends. Thanks fuck I have the sequel.
And there’s this song I couldn’t get out of my mind while reading this book. I hope y’all like it. I love it.


Maybe I'm broken, maybe I'm wrong
I could've spoken sooner than I should've
Only the good die old
That's what they told me, but I don't know
Maybe I'm breaking up with myself
Maybe I'm thinking I should just keep to
The things that I've been told
Wait for the colors to turn to gold

Do you know? Do you know?
You're not alone, you're not alone
That everything is crashing down
You're not alone, you're not alone

I'm ready for the fall
I'm ready for everything
That I believed in to drift away
Ready for the leaves
Ready for the colors to burn to gold and crumble away

Maybe I'm dusting to be destroyed
Always a reason breaking me
After my meets in the dead of night
I keep on praying to see the light
Maybe I'm breaking up with myself
Maybe I'm thinking I should just keep to
The things that I've been told
Wait for the colors to turn to gold

Do you know? Do you know?
You're not alone, you're not alone
That everything is crashing down
You're not alone, you're not alone

I'm ready for the fall
I'm ready for everything
That I believed in to drift away
Ready for the leaves
Ready for the colors to burn to gold and crumble away

I'm ready for the fall
Ready for the leaves
Ready for the colors to burn to gold and crumble away

The Fall - Imagine Dragons
Profile Image for sarah.
392 reviews262 followers
January 19, 2020
2nd read: January 2020
3 stars

This book felt like 3 separate and distinct books in one to me, so I decided to review it as such. Overall, I quite enjoyed it- but not as much as my initial reading in 2017.

Part One: Allyson and the French Kiss
4 stars
Allyson is on a European trip, but despite her best efforts, is not having a great time. The more excited she is for a new city, the more movies she has seen about it- the more disappointed she is. So, when she and her friend sneak out to see a travelling troupe of Shakespeare performers, and a mysterious actor flicks her a coin (apparently that is the height of romance?), she is thrust into a crazy adventure that winds up with her and said mysterious actor going to Paris for- you guessed it- Just One Day.

Part Two: Allyson and the Crushing Depression & Denial
2.5 stars
After a shock turn of events, Allyson is at college and… whatever the opposite of thriving is.

I liked Allyson’s character growth throughout this section, and even though it was at times very frustrating I can appreciate how real it is.

I also loved seeing someone not loving college. So many people say college/uni is the best time of your life. Allyson aced high school, getting straight A’s, having a good relationship with her teachers. As her guidance councillor says, it is often those people who struggle the most come their tertiary education. She started her college career as Pre-Med with high exceptions placed on her by not only her parents, but Allyson herself. But maybe that isn’t the right path.

This book showed really the fine line between work and life placed on college/uni kids. You should study, but you should have a social life- but not too much, because you have to do well in order to Have A Good Life™ Talk about pressure.

Part Three: Allyson and the Happy Ever After
3.5 stars
After somehow becoming fluent in French in like 3 months- Allyson travels back to where this all began. The city of lights, Paris!

I really enjoyed this section of this story, especially after the doom and gloom the last. All the payoff from slowly seeing her progress as a character finally comes. She becomes more confident in herself, yay for self acceptance!

She stays at a youth hostel with a group of Australian tourists. I listened to the audiobook and the Aussie accents were hilarious. They weren't the worst I have ever heard, but it felt as if the narrator studied for them by listening to Crocodile Dundee and Kath & Kim.

Overall thoughts
I really didn’t like ‘If I stay’ and then sequel ‘Where She Went’ even less. For that reason, I am pretty nervous to try the sequel 'Just One Year', but I'll give it a shot! I am glad I liked this one, even though it was slightly disappointing from what my younger self hyped it up to be. Overall, it was a fun, dramatic story about self acceptance, and finding yourself.

1st read: June 2017
4 stars

"I read this while reading three books at once, as an ebook. I enjoyed it- and was, and still am, in suspense. I have LOTS of questions I want answers to and hope they are revealed in the second book."
- from my 13 year old diary pls don't judge (hopefully my reviewing skills have increased since then lol)
Profile Image for Maria Espadinha.
1,016 reviews364 followers
October 21, 2016
Um Dia é quanto basta...

Ao fechar este livro, veio-me à memória uma frase esquecida:

Este é o primeiro dia do resto da Tua Vida

Por vezes...um dia é quanto basta para nos perdermos e encontrarmos!
Displaying 1 - 30 of 8,262 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.