Title: Just One Year
Author: Gayle Forman
Series: Just One Day #2
Published: October 10th 2013 by Dutton Children’s
Monday you could already read my review of Just One Day, but now I also have a review of the second book of this duology. This book is written from Willem’s perspective. The book starts when Willem is in the hospital on the morning after the night he spent in Paris with ‘Lulu’ (he doesn’t know Alysson’s real name). He has trouble remembering what happened, but he knows that somewhere, someone is waiting for him and he needs to find that someone. But as we already know from Just One Day Lulu is already gone. Willem is devastated and wants to go looking for her, but he has to go home, to Amsterdam, to sign some formal papers. His father passed away a few years ago, and his mother is traveling in India, so his mother sold the houseboat they used to live on. Willem gets a part of this money and he decides to go and find Lulu. The only problem is that he hardly knows anything about her. He doesn’t even know her real name. This book describes Willem’s search for Lulu, but also a search for himself and a search for a relationship with his mother.
What I liked about this book
I liked this book a little less than Just One Day, but it was still a very enjoyable book. I really liked reading about the events that happened in Just One Day from Willem’s perspective. While I was reading from Alysson’s perspective in Just One Day I kept wondering whether something happened to Willem or whether he was just a player. And it was fascinating to step into Willem’s mind and see how he experiences their day together in Paris. He is a very interesting character. He believes in fate, that everything that happens to him is because of ‘accidents’ and he goes where the wind blows him. But while he is traveling to find Lulu, he meets some people that try to convince him that one’s choices has a great influence in the course of life as well. This is one of the major themes in this book that Gayle Forman explores: choice vs. fate. She does this so beautifully by the thoughts that Willem has and the conversations he has with other people that he meets.
Another thing that I really like about this book is Willem’s actual search for Lulu. He tries to remember as much about he as he can, and with the little information that he has, he decides to travel the world to look for he. He goes to France to look for people they met when they were in Paris, and he goes to Mexico because he knows that Lulu always went to Mexico for the holidays. I recognized some of the places from Just One Day, which shows that at some points Willem was really close to finding her. But just at those moments, he decided to give up because ‘it wasn’t meant to be’. Although this was very frustrating every now and then because if he just went a little further, he would have found her. But it was also very beautiful and motivating and it shows up that you should never give up, because you might be closer to your goal than you were thinking.
But the thing that I most liked about the book is how it changed Just One Day for me. It gave the first book so much more depth and I could understand the way Willem was with Lulu because I now know his story. This book on its own is enjoyable, but what it adds to Just One Day is what makes me love it.
What I didn’t like about this book
I really loved this book, but there are some minor things about this book that I wasn’t enthusiastic about. First of all, the part where Willem is in India with his mother weren’t really exciting. I understand how this was important for Willem’s character development, and in that way I liked it, but the scenes on their own were a little boring to read about. I think I just wanted Willem to go back to looking for Lulu again. And my second minor issue with this book are the Dutch words in this book. I am Dutch myself, and though I liked the few Dutch words in Just One Day, in this book they felt a little forced and unrealistic. Some of the words that Gayle Forman used are not really used by Dutch guys like Willem. For example the part where Willem’s friends offer him to make him some borrelhapjes, no one says it like that in the Netherlands. But overall, it was a really great book and I really loved reading it.
Would I recommend this book?
I definitely would recommend this book to everyone who has read Just One Day. And since I recommended Just One Day to basically everyone, I therefore recommend this book to everyone as well. On the condition that you have read Just One Day first, of course. This book complements the first part in this duology so well and it made me love the first book even more.
“Loving someone is such an inherently dangerous act. And yet, love, that’s where safety lives.”
“Accidents. It’s all about the accidents.”
“Nothing happens without intention, Willem. Nothing. This theory of yours – life is rules by accidents – isn’t that just one huge excuse for passivity?”