Monday, March 11, 2013
Just One Day by Gayle Forman (Just One Day book 1)
“She left looking for him and along the way she found herself.”
Allyson Healey received a trip to Europe through the Teen Tours! Cultural Extravaganza as a high school graduation present from her parents. After a whirlwind visit of various tourist destinations, Allyson, her best friend Melanie and the rest of their group are going to spend their last night in Stratford-Upon-Avon seeing the Royal Shakespeare Company perform Hamlet at the Swan Theater. While standing in line in the sweltering heat, a group of people are shouting and handing out neon-colored flyers. Melanie takes one and sees that it is for a free performance of a Shakespeare play. Allyson realizes she is now standing in a shadow and looks up. She slowly makes out a cute boy about a foot taller, staring down. Starting up a flirty conversation with her, he tells Allyson that such a night shouldn’t be spent indoors watching a tragedy. Come see Twelfth Night, outside he says. Melanie coyly replies that they will think about it and he leaves.
Immediately, both girls decide to skip out on Hamlet and their tour. Melanie pretends to be having a heat stroke and Allyson convinces their tour leader, Ms. Foley, that she is capable of taking Melanie back to the hotel. Not wanting to miss the play, Ms. Foley reluctantly agrees. The girls take off for the park but are disappointed when they find no signs of a performance. Standing in line for ice cream, the sounds of drums and shouting quickly draws their attention. Allyson and Mel must follow the play as it takes place throughout the park. Finally during Act 2, the handsome boy who handed them the flyer appears. Allyson thinks he briefly makes eye contact with her. When the actors take their final bows, the boy flips a coin to Allyson that she catches. Mel gushes that it is sweet he acknowledged the both of them.
Mel wants to spend their last night hanging out with the tour at the pubs. Allyson just wants to go back to the room and get ready for their train ride to London early the next morning. The two go their separate ways. Mel is groggy on the train and tells Allyson to wake her in London. Having missed breakfast, Allyson goes to the dining car to find something to eat. While sitting at the table, a familiar voice strikes up a conversation with her. It is the boy from the night before. Over breakfast, he tells Allyson the reasons he knows that she is an American but doesn’t look like one. She reminds him of a silent film actress named Louise Brown and nicknames her Lulu. He introduces himself as Willem and tells her he is going home to Holland, his first time in two years. They are laughing when Melanie shuffles in. a little miffed, she quickly brighten upon noticing Willem. Allyson silently pleads with Mel not to spoil the moment. The three get off of the train together and Mel receives word that her cousin will be late picking them up. Allyson is disappointed in the station with the station and Mel asks if she is still moping over not getting to go to Paris because of a strike. She states that Budapest wasn’t the same. Allyson can’t believe she is so close to Paris and will not get to see it. Willem tells her to just go. Allyson’s overprotective mother would not be happy and suddenly Melanie becomes the voice of reason. Willem offers to pay for the train ticket and be her guide. For the first time in her life, Allyson throws caution to the wind. She tells Mel to cover with her mother when she calls and sets off for Paris with a boy she just met.
Allyson/Lulu and Willem spend the day in Paris not doing the typical touristy things. She gets glimpses onto his nomadic lifestyle. Also, she is left wondering if he isn’t a bit of a playboy over the number of girls he seems to know. A day of fun and unusual adventures leads to a conversation over the differences between falling in love and being in love. Willem describes being in love as a stain on one’s soul. He admits to falling in love many times but never actually being in love, like his parents. The day takes a turn for the worse when Willem attempts to stop an altercation and Allyson feels the need to rescue him. Escaping from the danger, Allyson is cut on the neck and it brings Willem back to reality. Ready to put her on a train back to London, Willem attempts to make things right when he sees how angry she is. They end up squatting in an artist’s studio where the tension between the two of them finally erupts. Allyson tries to delay the inevitable by promising to stay one more day. Exhausted, they fall asleep but not before whispering to a sleepy Willem her real name.
The next morning, Allyson wakes up in a panic when she realizes that Willem has left and she is alone in Paris without her suitcase and out of money. Unable to reach Mel, Allyson must rely on Ms. Foley to help her get back to London and her friend. She breaks down when she is reunited with Mel.
After just one day oink Paris with Willem, Allyson finds her life in a major tailspin. Unable to shake the memories, she sets out on a journey to find Willem but along the way she just might discover something about herself. Why was Willem gone the next morning? Will Allyson be able to get over the hurt and get on with her life? Can she locate him knowing very few details about him? What does she learn about herself after this experience?
Don’t fret over the ending! Just like Forman’s If I Stay/Where She Went, Allyson and Willem’s story will continues on October 13, 2013 with Just One Year, this time from Willem’s point of view.
Visit Gayle Forman's website.