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Just One Year Paperback – September 30, 2014
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Praise for Just One Year:
* “The complexity of Willem’s character, the twisting plot, and far-flung settings (including the Netherlands, Mexico, and India) create an alluring story that pushes beyond the realm of star-crossed romance.”— Publishers Weekly starred review
“As much a travelogue as it is a romance, this novel will appeal to fans of the movie Before Sunrise or Maureen Johnson's 13 Little Blue Envelopes (HarperCollins, 2005).”—School Library Journal
“As [Willem] becomes engaged personally and professionally, readers will find their interest quickening, right up to the satisfying denouement.”—Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
Gayle Forman is an award-winning, internationally bestselling author and journalist. She is the author of Just One Day and Just One Year, and the companion e-novella Just One Night, as well as the New York Times bestsellers If I Stay and Where She Went. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband and daughters.
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full review posted at http://myriadinklings.wordpress.com
Of course I had been dying to hear Willem's side of the story ever since JUST ONE DAY, and I found it really fascinating. Willem's story sort of unfolded much more like a mystery to me. We slowly got to find out the secrets of his past that had shaped his life as well as the way he interacted with Allyson (and the various girls he met in Paris). I really, really appreciated getting to know Willem more and finding out about his family. We knew nothing of his parents except their names in JOD and it was so bittersweet to learn about his relationship with both of them and exactly where that relationship stood at the beginning of JUST ONE YEAR, not to mention how his relationship changed towards the conclusion of the book as well.
JUST ONE YEAR wasn't as emotionally moving or particularly as life-changing as JUST ONE DAY had been simply because it was an entirely different journey that we were on. Of course I had identified with Allyson as the "good girl", aiming to please her parents and please others so I just connected more with her journey on a personal level than I had with Willem -- But that's not to say that I didn't feel for Willem because I really did feel his pain, his loneliness, his sense of just feeling a little lost and I appreciated the changes he went through as well.
The biggest thing that struck me about JUST ONE YEAR were all those "almost"s -- all the "missed connections" -- and that absolutely killed me. Just to see how close he and Allyson came to crossing paths -- the attempts to find each other and the pure chances were incredibly surprising! But as we know from Allyson's side of the book, they never do end up meeting until her story in JUST ONE DAY concludes, leaving us with Allyson at Willem's front door. To watch all of Willem's attempts to find her or run into her, though, just was so heartbreaking. She really had an impact on him and even though I knew they wouldn't meet up again until that moment, I secretly kept hoping for there to be a chance meeting!
** Strong feels ahead about the ending of this book that may be spoilery if you haven't finished this book yet! Just a kind word of warning :) **
So the ending. We already know that the end of JUST ONE DAY ends with Allyson at Willem's door step but we don't know where it goes from there and it takes us a while to get back to that point because obviously we have to find out Willem's side of what happened after he and Allyson separated in Paris. I won't say exactly HOW the book ends, but I cannot write this review and omit the fact at how disappointed I was with it. I want to say I can understand Gayle's choice to end the book like this... But I really can't. (Spoilers on the specifics of the ending below... Do not click if you haven't read the book.)
The ending was not an ending for me. We ended up in the exact same spot that we left Allyson with a mere five seconds added on to that scene. I didn't even need that much more. Just maybe... some words? A SINGLE exchange of words? A conversation? To simply end like it did crushed me. Sure, you could infer a lot of what was going to happen but honestly, I need it to be spelled out for me at least a LITTLE bit. I needed a bit more closure. It also makes me a TINY BIT enraged at the cover. I mean, come on...
After finishing the book and ending the way it did... I was honestly enraged. I felt let down. Abandoned in the middle of this story. And I HATED that I was mad. I really enjoyed the whole book up until that point and I couldn't believe it ended like that. I legitimately felt a little bit betrayed that I had been so emotionally invested in the ending for these two characters and that was the way we left them. I may have been spoiled by how perfectly WHERE SHE WENT ended because I absolutely loved that whole book, cover to cover, but I didn't quite understand why JUST ONE YEAR had to end like that.
I wanted this to be a series I could rave about, shove in the hands of friends, jump up and down with, hug!!!! But the ending left me feeling so confused and emotionally raw -- I had a serious book hangover, but not quite in a good way. I thought about this for HOURS after I finished reading and my feelings have settled a little bit, but I'm still upset with the way this book ended and I can't deny that if affected how I feel about this book as a whole. I will still recommend the read but just a word of warning to the readers that you may be in for shock and rage in the last chapter.
So I waited for my email to come that my preordered copy had been mailed and when it did, I was thrilled. When it came in the mail on release day, I couldn't have opened the package quick enough.
Just One Year begins with Willem in the hospital not really knowing what's going on. He'd just been attacked my the skinheads (something we learned in Just One Day) and knows he has to be somewhere, just not where. He has vague memories of the day before and of Lulu (aka Allyson) but by the time he remembers everything it's too late.
Willem lives the life of "accidents" that lead him on amazing adventures and introduces him to a rather interesting cast of characters. He meets a woman in Mexico who runs a theater camp out of New York, specializing in Shakespeare. He visits is mother in India and winds up playing the villain in a Bollywood movie.
I love learning more about Willem and watching him life is life for this year helps us understand who he is while giving us peeks into his past, family relationship, and friendships; we get a larger picture of this wanderer. I love that this novel is a romance, but at the same time it's not. It is so much more than that. Yes, Willem is searching for Allyson as he finds trouble getting over her, but it's also about him searching for and finding himself. His search for her is a bit tricker as he doesn't even know her first name and despite his almost giving up a few times, he realizes that he can't stop and most likely never will. Something in him kept looking for Allyson and through this search he finds himself and his double happiness.
Gayle did an amazing job of introducing us to these two characters and allowing us to spend a year with each of them after the events in Paris. I don't think I would have truly appreciated Allyson's story without Willem's or vise versa. I know that I definitely would not have appreciated Just One Night without Just One Year (but that's a review for next week).
I do wish I had read these two books closer in sequence, because while one scene was obvious that they were like 50 feet from one another, I have a feeling Gayle entered more little hints and nods to Just One Day that I missed since I hadn't read them closer together. I guess that's what rereads are for!