Just One Year (Just One Day #2)
Definitions Publishing (Random House UK)
Read from my local library
The following is a joint review between myself and Marg from Adventures of an Intrepid Reader. I have the first part of the conversation and Marg has the second part. My thoughts are in blue and Marg’s are in red.
B: Gayle Forman is an author who needs no introduction to YA fans. Her novels If I Stay and it’s follow up/companion Where She Went have left sobbing fans in their wake as people fell under Forman’s emotional spell. If I Stay is also soon to be a feature film and I think it’ll be interesting to see what they do with it for the big screen. Forman has moved on though, with her novel Just One Day released last year and its companion Just One Year. I read Just One Day about a year ago but I have to admit, I didn’t rush to read Just One Year. However I recently read a review of it that made me remember about it and I decided it was time to find out what happened between Willem and Allyson and experience Willem’s point of view. I’m just going to jump right in here Marg – was Just One Year the story you expected it to be?
M: It was the story I expected it to be but it was also more. When reading Just One Day, it was clear that Willem was meant to be somewhat enigmatic in terms of his character and so what I really wanted was the explanation of why he behaved the way he did and how did he end up where he was. After all, he was 21 years old, living a somewhat nomadic lifestyle, and even then we knew that from a girl perspective he was very much a one night stand kind of guy.
Did you feel as though the who and why of Willem was sufficiently explained?
B: In a way yes and in a way no. Essentially I wanted two things from this story – Willem’s point of view in Paris and what happened after Allyson knocked on his door at the end of Just One Day. I understand why we didn’t get a lot of Paris and how it only came to him later in fragments and bits and pieces. And even though that disappointed me, I understand that a lot of that story had already been told and Forman obviously didn’t want to repeat herself or backtrack the story. However without his point of view on it, I really didn’t feel the intensity or his interest in finding Allyson/Lulu, which he goes all the way to Mexico to do, because she mentioned she goes there with her family for spring break. I found it difficult to warm to Willem, even in Just One Day and I’m not sure this book really helped me see much more from his point of view. It became a blur of girls and locations. My favourite part of the book was Willem’s trip to India (not the Bollywood stuff but the conversations where he finally manages to connect with his mother after basically his entire life). In fact that might be the only part of the novel that I really enjoyed.
M: Ouch. I think I must of enjoyed it more than you then. I agree that there was definitely a blur of locations and girls but at least the way that Willem could have afforded to go to Mexico and India and lots of other places in between was explained reasonably, which doesn’t necessarily always happen in YA.
I really wondered if I had of enjoyed this book more if I had read Just One Day more recently. As it was there has been more than a year. I found myself trying to remember where Allyson was at exactly that point in the year. For example, as you mentioned Willem goes all the way to Mexico in his efforts to track Allyson down. I vaguely remembered there was something about the family going to Mexico and I couldn’t quite remember Allyson’s story at that time. Were they unknowingly within shouting distance of each other at that and other stages of the book. Having reread Just One Day would have helped with that.
Did you end up skimming the first book before you read this, or did you go into this relying on what you could remember from when you read it last year?
B: I read my review because I couldn’t find Just One Day at first look (of course it turned up pretty much the second I finished Just One Year) and I found that things came back to me as I read but I probably should have tried to skim JOD just to read Allyson and Willem together because there’s certainly not a lot of that here. I’d say that ultimately you did enjoy it a lot more than me and perhaps that’s because you’ve travelled and you’re familiar with some of these places. I’m not and because I was looking for things that weren’t there, what was left wasn’t really that interesting to me. I found Willem not exciting enough to carry the whole book – so much was made of how hot he was and how much of a manwhore he was and it got a bit boring after a while, girls tripping over themselves to be with him. I feel as though Willem’s amnesia stunted the book a little and for me, it didn’t really recover from there. It was always lagging behind – and of course part of that is my own fault, my preconceptions and wants. For me there was none of the emotion and beauty of IIS and WSW.
M: If I was going to suggest Forman books to read I would definitely start with If I Stay and Where She Went because I think they work better as a duology and as individual books,. I do think that there were things to like about both of these book too though. A big part of the like for me is the travel and adventure, but I think the thing I liked most about this book was actually Willem’s growth. He definitely started off being kind of two dimensional (hot and um, hot) but along the way through Just One Year I felt as though we did get to see some development of emotional maturity. One example is the relationship with his mother which I doubt will ever be overly strong but he understands her more now and the way that she is capable of showing her love. Other ways I thought was the way that Willem was able to get some direction in terms of his acting and the way he started to value more of his own past. I really think that we needed to see that emotional growth to be able to believe that he would be ready for that inevitable moment when Allyson knocked on his door.
Jump on over to Marg’s blog and read the rest of our conversation….here!
For me, Just One Year was book #71 of 2014
And a 6/10 read