Monday, January 6, 2014

Just One Year: A review

Author: Gayle Forman
Info: Dutton's Children, copyright 2013, 336 pages

A review in 10 words (or thereabouts): Sometimes you have to travel the world to finally find home.


When he opens his eyes, Willem doesn’t know where in the world he is—Prague or Dubrovnik or back in Amsterdam. All he knows is that he is once again alone, and that he needs to find a girl named Lulu. They shared one magical day in Paris, and something about that day—that girl—makes Willem wonder if they aren’t fated to be together. He travels all over the world, from Mexico to India, hoping to reconnect with her. But as months go by and Lulu remains elusive, Willem starts to question if the hand of fate is as strong as he’d thought. . . .

~Goodreads Description~

The Awesome
Willem travels the world without fear, never meeting a stranger, and always keeping an eye on the horizon for the next adventure, but Willem is alone.  He's running.  He's running from a past.  He's running from a concrete present.  And he's running form the loneliness that consumes him.  And then he meets this girl.  Sign. This interesting, humble, thoughtful girl.  She's supposed to be a diversion, but instead she becomes the exact escape he needs.  Forman has created a vulnerable young man that you can't help but root for, even when you don't really agree with his choices.  She captures that moment when you have the opportunity to decide if you will allow your circumstances determine who you are, or if you will decide who you will become.  And she does it with ease.  And heart.

The Not So Awesome
There were a few instances of conveniences that drove me a little crazy, took me out of the realism of the book.  Oh look...here's a family member who is going to change your life, even though I haven't really mentioned them before, but I feel like this will move your story forward.  It works because Forman is a talented, genuine writer, but I found myself holding off a few eye rolls along the way.

Just One Year picks up immediately after "the day" that we come to know so well in Just One Day, the companion novel told by Allyson (a.k.a LuLu).  We get to follow Willem over the course of the next year, ending exactly where the first story ends which is kind of awesome.  I didn't even have to cheat since I already knew the ending!  

Forman is really a genius storyteller.  Just like in her If I Stay / Where She Went series, we get to see a story from two perspectives.  We get to meet and fall completely in love with two different characters.  See two sides to the story, and experience two amazing journeys of self-realization and forgiveness.  Plus...he's so cute :)  Now if only I could find the courage to travel the world with just a backpack and the spirit of adventure.


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