Thursday, December 4, 2014

Just One Day

I am long overdue for a book review. Because of all the hype about the critically acclaimed book (and movie adaptation) of If I Stay, I have decided to review another of Gayle Forman's books: Just One Day.

There is a reason I picked up this book. The page before the story begins, there is a Shakespearean quotation from As You Like It, one of my favorite plays. It is famous: "All the world's a stage / And all the men and women merely players: / They have their exits and their entrances; / And one man in his time plays many parts." I don't know if you're like me, fellow literature enthusiasts, but an author who quotes the greats from the beginning has my attention immediately.

I suspected right away that I would enjoy this book. I was right. It is written with poise and grace. The story focuses on the life of Allyson Healey and her post-graduation trip to Europe. While there with her tour group, she meets Willem, a traveling actor who performs Shakespeare in the park. She is entranced by his performance of Sebastian, a character in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. In a whirlwind of activity, Allyson and Willem take a "just one day" trip to Paris.

While in Paris, they become separated and their one day together is over. But Allyson, quiet by nature and unsure of what she wants in life, cannot forget Willem. And months later while back in America, she makes a plan to return to Europe to find him. Along the journey, she finds herself in the process.

This story is a coming of age novel. Even though it is about a college student, it carries themes that I believe we can all relate to. Told from Allyson's point of view (or Lulu, as Willem calls her), there is a lot of character growth and depth that we see as the novel progresses. Finally, the novel comes full circle with the Shakespearean references. Here's a passage from the beginning: 
As the hot day softens into twilight and I'm sucked deeper into the illusory world of Illyria, I feel like I've entered some weird otherworldly space, where anything can happen, where identities can be swapped like shoes. Where those thought dead are alive again. Where everyone gets their happily-ever-afters. I recognize it's kind of corny, but the air is soft and warm, and the trees are lush and full, and the crickets are singing, and it seems like, for once, maybe it can happen. 
And in the end, As You Like It is performed. If you like stories about personal growth, this will be a good one for you. Even better, if you enjoy the novel, read its sequel: Just One Year. The sequel is equally good and written from Willem's point of view - but that's a post for another day.

Happy reading!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...