My YA Contemporary review for this Thursday, is for Gayle Forman's Just One Year. This is the highly-anticipated sequel to her Just One Day.
YA contemporary Thursday/contemporary Thursday is when we review the latest and greatest books!
Hardcover, 323 pages
Published October 10th 2013 by Dutton
Format read: Physical copy, owned
In the end, I figured I would still do a review, but it's not going to be my usual essay-like analysis of the book in question.
Synopsis via Goodreads:
After spending an amazing day and night together in Paris, Just One Year is Willem’s story, picking up where Just One Day ended. His story of their year of quiet longing and near misses is a perfect counterpoint to Allyson’s own as Willem undergoes a transformative journey, questioning his path, finding love, and ultimately, redefining himself.
Things that worked:
While I didn't necessarily like Willem for most of the book, I did like Forman's characterizations for him, if that makes any sense.
Outside of what we learned about him through Allyson, Forman beautifully depicts him as a lost kid who has a lot of money, but just can't figure life out. Even though he's a talented, gifted young man, life circumstances have made him feel like he needs to keep traveling and running from his problems, simply to keep going.
While I felt terribly for Allyson, when it became apparent that Willem, despite being intrigued by his girl, wasn't that into looking for her, I do think Forman has done a fantastic job of showing how a young man can slowly grow and develop, as he deals with his life and grows.
Even though the book takes place over the course of a year, Forman paces the book extremely well. She spends just enough time setting up Willem's life after his day with Allyson, and develops enough of the intervening months, that we get a pretty clear snapshot of who he is, and just who Allyson is returning to.
* The setting
Forman's given dozens of interviews at this point describing how she's traveled across Europe before, and it's apparent through all of the settings she describes in the book. If anything, this book really, really made me want to go travel again.
Despite my personal reservations with the plot, it can't be disputed that Forman is a masterful writer. Her words flow off the page with an ease and a simplicity, in a way where I feel like I'm genuinely living in the spontaneity of the moment, alongside Willem. I'm growing alongside him.
Even if you end up not necessarily liking the book because of the plotting, I can safely say, I think you'll love the book for the writing.
Things that didn't work:
* Spoilers ahead*
I should probably preface this by saying: this is my personal opinion, and completely not intended as a criticism of Forman's artistic choices.
However, I was disappointed that we didn't get to see the reunion between Allyson and Willem. Instead, we conclude the book exactly where we began: with an idea that the two of them would reunite, but not actually getting to see any of it.
I completely respect that we can imagine our own ending, and that sometimes, we're not going to see the happily-ever-after, but... I was disappointed.
I recommend this book for fans of YA Contemporary, and for fans of NA. (Just don't expect too much romance...)