Book review: Gayle Forman's 'Just One Year' romantic, emotional companion 'Just One Day'

By Tara Creel

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, Oct. 5 2013 3:00 p.m. MDT

"JUST ONE YEAR," by Gayle Forman, Dutton, $17.99, 336 pages (f) (ages 16 and up)

Gayle Forman rewards fans with "Just One Year," a lyrical, heartrending, page-turning story of finding love, but also finding oneself.

The novel's predecessor, "Just One Day," ended with Willem de Ruiter opening the door for Allyson Proctor, whom he calls Lulu, after a yearlong separation. "Just One Year" chronicles Willem's side of the story and how he spent their year apart.

As her character travels from Paris to Amsterdam, Cancun and Mumbai, Forman reveals Willem's layers, and shares why he acted the way he did that fateful day in Paris, and how he needs to change to become the person he thinks he is.

Forman brings Willem's visits to these cities to life with realistic anecdotes, clever side characters and plenty of plot twists to keep him moving and the pages turning.

Shakespeare lovers will appreciate the multiple references to his plays and Forman's tribute to his writing as well as their shared ability to prove that love can be sudden and still be true.

Forman writes a narrative full of poetic emotion that gorgeously and seamlessly guides the reader through the story.

The parallels of scenes from this novel and "Just One Day" are brilliant and it is heartbreaking to see just how close Willem and Allyson were to finding each other, but comforting to know that all the pieces and events will line up.

Willem is on his journey to figure out how much of life is due to fate or accident, and how much he can control by his own actions.

As Willem searches for Allyson, he travels the path of self-discovery and is immersed in his family history, recalls his wandering past and finds out that the very thing he is searching for is what makes him run.

Even as Willem runs from love and other commitments that scare him, his footsteps only bring him closer to that ending where he opens the door and Allyson is standing there. Only then is Willem able to finish one tale and start another.

Although it's not essential to understanding "Just One Year," reading "Just One Day" will help round out the emotional background of the story.

"Just One Year" contains sexual content and mild language.

If you go ...

What: Gayle Forman and Sarah Zarr book signing

When: Thursday, Oct. 10, 7 p.m.

Where: The King's English, 1511 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City

Web: kingsenglish.com, gayleforman.tumblr.com

Note: Places in the signing line are reserved for those who purchase a copy of the featured books from the King's English.

Tara Creel is a Logan native and mother of three boys. Her email is taracreel@gmail.com.

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