Review: Just One Year by Gayle Forman

October 13, 2013 3 - 3.5 Stars, All Aboard For Europe, Contemporary Romance, Disappointing, Gayle Forman, Male POV 1 ★★★½

Just One Year by Gayle Forman
Series: Just One Day # 2
Published by Dutton Children's on October 10, 2013
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 336
Format: Hardcover
Source: Puchased
Before you find out how their story ends, remember how it began....

When he opens his eyes, Willem doesn’t know where in the world he is—Prague or Dubrovnik or back in Amsterdam. All he knows is that he is once again alone, and that he needs to find a girl named Lulu. They shared one magical day in Paris, and something about that day—that girl—makes Willem wonder if they aren’t fated to be together. He travels all over the world, from Mexico to India, hoping to reconnect with her. But as months go by and Lulu remains elusive, Willem starts to question if the hand of fate is as strong as he’d thought. . . .

The romantic, emotional companion to Just One Day, this is a story of the choices we make and the accidents that happen—and the happiness we can find when the two intersect.
I have been dying to read Just One Year ever since I read the last word of Just One Day.  (You can see my review of that book here.)  Just One Day gave such a realistic portrayal of love and heartbreak, and it took us through Allyson’s (Lulu’s) journey as she struggled to get over Willem.  And then that last moment of Just One Day when he opened up the door… What an amazing cliffhanger!  It left me so eager to know more – specifically, to know what was going through Willem’s head.

Just One Year picks up with Willem in the hospital in Paris, disoriented from the attack he suffered in Just One Day.  This was the event that separated him from Lulu and caused her to flee, believing he’d abandoned her.  The timeline then follows Willem’s story over the next (yes, indeed) year.

Forman did a lot of online chats leading up to the publication of Just One Year, and I participated in several.  In one, she thanked early reviewers for not spoiling the book.  This, of course, had me very intrigued.  There must be something incredibly surprising, right?  I didn’t think it could be about the events that occurred after Willem left Lulu in Paris, since we already had some of those answers in Just One Day.  After reading Just One Year, I can tell you that Willem’s story over that year was…not very interesting.  Certainly, it pales in comparison to Lulu’s.  The only big question mark seemed to be: What happened after Willem opened his door?  Would we get answers to that, or would Just One Year end at that same moment?  Even though I assume this is the spoiler Forman alluded to, I’m going to answer that question, because I assume for some readers, this could be a deal-breaker.  So, if you DON’T want to know if we find out what happens after Willem opens the door, then skip down to the next paragraph NOW.  (Don’t worry – I won’t tell you what, if anything, happens after that moment.)  OK, here we go – we get nothing after that door opening.  In retrospect, I shouldn’t have been surprised.  We already know how Lulu feels about Willem, and JOY allows us to get inside Willem’s head.  But still, I couldn’t help feeling some disappointment.  Maybe it’s because Lulu’s feelings were so raw and real, and Willem seemed somewhat detached from everything.  I felt that I needed to see just how he would react to Lulu in the flesh; I have no questions at all, however, about how Lulu must have felt.

Willem was so lively and flirtatious in JOD, but here, he was somber and morose.  He almost seemed like a different character, and I just didn’t buy that the personality changes were a result of Lulu.  Back to JOD again: I completely bought that Lulu’s depression was a direct result of Willem.

Despite my problems with this story, I still recommend it.  But consider adjusting your expectations.  Besides, if you loved JOD as much as I did, there is nothing I or anyone could say that could (or should) discourage you from wanting to know more about Willem.

Final note: If you have not seen the films Before Sunrise (1995) and Before Sunset (2004) starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, I highly encourage you to rent or buy them.  They are absolutely magical.  Here is the synopsis from Before Sunrise:

 A young man and woman meet on a train in Europe, and wind up spending one romantic evening together in Vienna. Unfortunately, both know that this will probably be their only night together.

Sound familiar?  There is a third film that came out this year called Before Midnight, catching up with the couple 20 years after that train ride that is supposed to be just as wonderful.

Review posted at Goodreads.


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