In search of that joie de vivre
BookPage Children's Top Pick, January 2013
Is one day enough to change your life? Allyson Healey’s existence has always been predictable and mundane. She’s never questioned her mother’s color-coded schedules or her own intention to go to medical school like her father. But on the last day of an unexciting pre-college European summer tour, everything changes. Allyson decides at the spur of the moment to spend a day in Paris with Willem, a 20-year-old traveling Shakespearean actor whom she’s just met.
A dizzying day of Parisian adventure follows, but the next morning Allyson finds herself stranded and alone. Haunted not only by the loss of Willem but also by the loss of the person Willem inspired her to be, Allyson’s first semester of college is marred by depression and failure.
When a guidance counselor suggests she drop her science labs for a Shakespeare class, a new door opens for Allyson. She begins to build an independent identity around her own interests and goals. Forgoing the summer internship her mother has arranged for her, Allyson finds her own job and makes plans to return to Paris to look for Willem. She soon discovers that her trip is as much about finding herself as finding Willem.
Gayle Forman, best-selling author of If I Stay and an experienced traveler herself, infuses this tale of self-discovery with details of international travel, Shakespeare’s plays, and the sights, smells, tastes and textures of Paris. Against this backdrop, and in the setting of Allyson’s small Boston-area college, Forman develops a cast of well-drawn characters in realistic relationships—from Allyson’s strained post-high school relationship with her longtime best friend Melanie, to her growing friendship with Dee, a classmate who’s not afraid to challenge others’ preconceptions of his unusual fashion choices. In the end, though, what captures readers’ hearts is Allyson’s own emerging individuality as she struggles with defining—and then becoming—the person she wants to be.
Readers curious about Willem’s side of the story can look forward to Just One Year, coming this fall.
ALSO IN BOOKPAGE
Read an interview with Gayle Forman for Just One Day.