Title: Just One Day
Author: Gayle Forman
To begin with Allyson Healey lives a very normal, if rigidly organised life. When she graduates her parents pay for her to go on a tour of Europe and evenly though it is informative, well-organised and most of the other graduates including her friend Mel have a lot fun, Allyson feels that something is missing. She is seeing the countries as an American tourist but not feeling the atmosphere or living as they would. She used to be satisfied with staying in while everyone went out, studying hard in order to get into medical school and generally obeying her Mother completely. Things seem to change quickly, however, when she meets Willem a young Dutchman who had travelled for two years and somehow ended up joining a cast of amateur actors, performing Shakespeare. As Allyson watches him acting Sebastian in the acting group’s rendition of ‘Twelf Night’ she begins to fall for him. He calls her ‘Lulu’ stating she looks similar to the 1920s American actress Louise Brooks, due to her short black hairstyle and dark, deep eyes. For the first time in her life Allyson feels special, different and more confident and when Willem offers her an enchanting offer to visit Paris, just for one day, she finds it impossible to refuse…
Just one day becomes a truer statement than Allyson could have imagined, as Willem disappears mysteriously, leaving her stranded in Paris. Heartbroken, Allyson manages to get home but she is devastated feeling she has lost not only Willem, but also the person she became while she was with him; ‘Lulu’. She hates university and constantly struggles to fit in with her parent’s expectations, often falling short. Eventually Allyson decides to take action, she will find Willem and with him find answers, and hopefully also find the confident, interesting Lulu, such a contrast to the shy boring Allyson.
This is not your typical American love story. It is, I admit, an American love story, but it contains stunning descriptions of Paris and wonderful elements of different cultures which you never thought you knew. Have you ever heard Shakespeare in French? Did you know there is a word in Mandarin for ‘double-happiness’?
This is also a story about self-discovery, life and loss. In her search Allyson eventually discovers who she really is, after meeting a variety of different personalities and nationalities both friends and enemies. She learns about love and about herself, finding it incredible how just one day in Paris could change someone’s life forever. This book might not have the conventional happy ending, or even be a tragedy, but it does have love, happiness and friendship as well as heartbreak and despair and the trials of growing up and finding out who you really are.
“If Music be the food of love, play on” Duke Orsino, ‘Twelfth Night’ by William Shakespeare.