Title: Just One Year
Author: Gayle Forman
Synopsis: After spending an amazing day and night together in Paris, Just One Year is Willem’s story, picking up where Just One Day ended. His story of their year of quiet longing and near misses is a perfect counterpoint to Allyson’s own as Willem undergoes a transformative journey, questioning his path, finding love, and ultimately, redefining himself.
Guys, I have to say that I am SO sorry to everyone who told me to read JUST ONE DAY. I haven’t had the heart to put my review up on this blog (you can read it here on goodreads **WARNING SPOILERS FOR JUST ONE DAY***) because I really did not have a good time with Just One Day. I didn’t hate it, but the book, and Allyson made me EXTREMELY angry. So when I saw that I got an ARC of JUST ONE YEAR I actually cringed and made my co-blogger read it just to alleviate some of the guilt that came with getting a copy of a book that other’s would KILL for and that I didn’t really deserve or appreciate…
That said… I REALLY ENJOYED THIS BOOK. I still think Willem is an ass, but a charming one who seemed to have REAL REASONS for half of the crap he did. I understood his motivations a lot more, and even sympathized with him. I did not forgive him for what he did, but I came to accept what he did.
I think the thing that really made this book for me was that while Allyson was a driving force behind his actions, she was not the sole reason for everything he did. In JUST ONE DAY I felt that everything Allyson did revolved around Willem and that everything she did sprung from her obsession with him. But with Willem, Allyson was present, but she didn’t seem to be in the forefront.
And I totally accepted that while he did things for the sake of her, he was in turn finding and doing even BETTER things for the sake of HIMSELF.
Also, I loved Kate. She was amazing and much needed.
I still had issues with Forman’s writing (hands between legs this time around. At least give the thigh a little slide! Something! ugh, all the physical contact is so awkwaaaaaaard) it didn’t bother me as much in this either.
And this is why I gave the book 4 bright stars.
Just One Day was easily a front runner for one of my favourite reads of the year, but I feel as though it was easily dethroned by its sequel, Just One Year. Written from the perspective of Willem, we see how one year takes complete control of him as he goes on a journey of self-discovery.
While Allyson frustrated me at times, I couldn’t help by be enchanted by Willem’s narration. Honest, sensitive, broken, he’s someone who is always looking for quick fixes in situations, or at least band-aids when things go awry. He can be a kind person, but equally be horrific and dismissive of the world around him, and yet Forman gives you all the reasons why. There’s no sugarcoating, there’s no pining, there’s just raw emotion, the “I-screwed-up-so-royally-I-don’t-deserve-a-second-chance” kind of emotion. The book is not entirely centered on Willem and Allyson’s relationship, but rather it uncovers just a small part of who this man really is.
As always, I’m easily enamored by Gayle Forman’s writing. She knows how to make you care about the characters, both primary and secondary, and she never sugarcoats the sensitive issues within the text. These people are screwed up, they wear their flaws on their sleeves, and yet you love them because you get to watch them rise, fall, and rise once more. Willem’s adventures, from his Bollywood experience, to his reconnection with his family, show so much growth and discovery, but it never makes Willem feel entirely at peace with himself. I enjoyed that aspects because there are some life situations that haunt us and never feel like they can fully be rectified.
Overall I thought this was a much better novel that its predecessor (which I also loved). I found my connection to Willem over Allyson was so much stronger and it felt much more meaningful as the story progressed. Willem is a messed up guy, but Forman makes you root from him, no matter the situation.