Gayle Forman’s If I Stay is one of my favourite books, basically, ever, and Where She Went isn’t far behind, so her new duology of books was always going to be on my must-read list. Sinéad bought them before I did, so I waited until I was home to get my hands on them.
Over the first week, I think, that I was home, I read them both, and enjoyed them both immensely.
Far more than If I Stay, these two books are two sides of the same coin.
Just One Day
Allyson Healey’s life is exactly like her suitcase—packed, planned, ordered. Then on the last day of her three-week post-graduation European tour, she meets Willem. A free-spirited, roving actor, Willem is everything she’s not, and when he invites her to abandon her plans and come to Paris with him, Allyson says yes. This uncharacteristic decision leads to a day of risk and romance, liberation and intimacy: 24 hours that will transform Allyson’s life.
A book about love, heartbreak, travel, identity, and the “accidents” of fate, Just One Day shows us how sometimes in order to get found, you first have to get lost. . . and how often the people we are seeking are much closer than we know.
and Just One Year
Just One Day. Just One Year. Just One Read.
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.
These books are not a novel and a sequel, not at all. They’re two novels which are inextricably linked, and really, they should be read together.
I thoroughly enjoyed both novels – the romance was ‘meant to be’ without being cheesy, and the struggles they went through in the year following their magical one day felt real – the little coincidences between them were sweet, and the cast of supporting characters felt, if not quite three-dimensional, at least two-dimensional. The two books together paint one story of two people trying very hard to achieve the impossible, and find the other half of their heart, even when it seems like a ridiculously crazy thing to do.
Without ruining anything of the story, which I would happily recommend, the ending (of both books) felt a little like a lingering chord which hasn’t been resolved. You know where things are going, and certainly all the elements are there for you to make your own conclusions, but it feels a little cut off. I wasn’t particularly disappointed in this – it wasn’t left as a mystery or anything, just that we left our characters at the beginning of something new, something which could be left to the imagination. Lots of reviews, however, were pretty disappointed that there wasn’t something more concrete for them to hold on to.
I realised why this was today, actually, when I was looking for links for the GoodReads profiles of the two books. It turns out there’s a third installment – or, rather, a book number 2.5. Just One Night is an e-novella which was released last May.
I hadn’t realised this until today and, to be honest, I’m a little disgusted with it. I know lots of books have novellas which fit into the story, which add to or flesh out minor plot points. That’s nothing unusual.
However, what happened here is that the major resolution of both books has been siphoned off into a 40-page novella which costs, on Amazon, £2.48. That’s compared to £2.62 for Just One Day (weighing in at a hefty 385 pages) and £2.99 for Just One Year (shorter at 337 pages). I’m actually disgusted at this – I can’t believe such a cynical ploy. It’s really tainted my enjoyment of both books and, although I won’t change my rating for either book, I’m certainly hesitant to recommend either. I thought the ending was an artistic choice, a writing decision to let the reader imagine how things work out for Willem and Allyson, but from here, today, it looks more like a deliberate, cynical decision to tempt readers into shelling out for what should have been the conclusion to one or both books. I’m seriously disappointed.
Just One Day / Just One Year