Just One Year is a companion novel to Just One Day and so if you haven’t read Just One Day this review may contain spoilers.
Just One Year by Gayle Forman
Release: 7th November 2013 (UK)
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, New Adult, YA, Travel
Source: Borrowed from Jasprit – thank you!
"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."
Just One Day was an incredibly special book to me. It changed the way I looked at life and pushed me to say yes to exciting but scary opportunities. It had a massive impact on me and so I went into Just One Year hoping for more of the same. After Just One Day’s ending I still had so many unanswered questions and was hoping for closure from this companion novel which serves as the flip side to the same coin.
Going into Just One Year I had no idea where this book would take place on the Just One Day timeline. I only knew that it was a companion novel from Willem’s perspective. The book begins with where we left off with Willem in Paris after his beautiful day with Allyson and although I was grateful to finally get those crucial missing pieces to the puzzle I was a little disappointed that we didn’t get to experience that whirlwind day through Willem’s eyes. Because of this I would definitely recommend reading Just One Day first as I don’t think that you can fully appreciate this series without knowing what happened on that life changing day. I was actually kind of surprised that Gayle didn’t include it as it’s such an important part of Willem’s journey and is the crux of the story. I would have loved to have experienced his thoughts and feelings first hand and I feel like it would have resurrected the feelings I have towards this couple and would have brought those feelings back to the surface. I guess Gayle didn’t want to cover old ground but I personally would have liked it to have been included.
Sadly there isn’t as much time spent with Allyson and Willem together as there was in Just One Day however the chemistry between them and the anticipation of them meeting again is kept alive through Willem’s memories of the day they shared together that are always very present in Willem’s mind which I felt like was a fair compromise for not re-visiting that day. I loved finding out what Willem had got up to in the year since their meeting and I loved that he put just as much time and effort into looking for Allyson as she did for him. I’m pretty sure that their paths may have crossed over at some points but because it’s been a while since I read Just One Day I couldn’t be sure and so where Allyson was at that time was often lost to me. I’d definitely recommend reading the books back to back or even each month side by side. I’m going to be trying this myself in a future re-read!
One of the things that I loved most about Just One Day was how deeply I connected with Allyson and her journey. Willem is a lost soul drifting from place to place since the death of his father and the loss of his home. He’s grieving and broken and is a big believer in accidents and life leading you to where you’re supposed to be. I didn’t connect with Willem on the same level that I did with Allyson but I still enjoyed his journey. Like Just One Day, Just One Year is both a physical and mental journey and I loved both the sites and experiences of Willem’s travels and his growth as a person as well as meeting the people who shape him along the way. I also enjoyed the subject of Free Will VS Fate and Love VS Luck and how maybe you need a little of both in life to get to where you belong.
The ending to this book was simple yet perfect. Just enough was said to leave me feeling like I got that closure. With this duology it is definitely a case of journey over destination and by the end of Just One Year I felt like both Willem and Allyson had become who they needed to be and that was down to each other and the journey they took to find a way back to one another. Although Just One Year didn’t leave as strong an impression on me as Just One Day did I closed this book feeling satisfied and like Willem and Allyson’s story is complete.