Plot in a Nutshell:
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.
-Synopsis (from Goodreads)
Thoughts in General:
First of all, I want to say that to all those who think that this is a sequel to Just One Day I am sorry to disappoint but it is not. This book is only a companion novel to its predecessor and it presents Willem’s side of the story. Initially this book didn’t catch my attention and I did plan on putting it aside. I wasn’t a huge fan of Willem in Just One Day so I did not have the enthusiasm to read it however once I finally saw that the character began to grow as a person, I did manage to plough through the novel and ending up liking it. This is a good coming-of-age story about a guy who is lost but later on found himself back in the right direction which I could totally relate with. This book isn’t as cinematic as its antecedent but I enjoyed the places that Willem visited. A good companion to Allyson’s story, Willem’s POV on things did not disappoint.
Thoughts in Details (Contains Some Spoilers):
Willem de Ruiter is, honestly, one HUGE mystery in Just One Day and I guess that’s the reason why I didn’t like him as I read through that book. However in Just One Year, the air of mystery around this guy finally dissolves and we get to see what his story is and Gayle Forman finally justifies him for me. I could actually relate to him in a way that he feels totally lost and he doesn’t know what direction his life needs to be. He is cocky, selfish and (let’s face it) a man-whore (how many girls has he slept with in this one book considering that he is still hung up on “Lulu”) at the beginning of this book which annoyed me but as the novel progresses we finally get to see his vulnerability and insecurities in himself (which makes him more human to me). This is especially prevalent when he comes to his mom in India.
Yael, his mother, is the kind of mom that is distant and not totally hands-on with her son’s life and this is actually one of the reasons that somehow affected Willem’s personality. I am really glad that they managed to bond and learn something from each other.
Broodje is funny and the perfect sidekick for Willem. Kate’s honesty and her wise words during that trip she and Willem took in Mexico made me love her. And the rest of the ensemble is really crafted wonderfully.
Again like Just One Day, this novel has a lot of locations that were well described. When the book was set in Mexico, I was really frustrated because I knew that Allyson was there as well (especially that New Year’s party). The beauty of India and its ugly side, in my opinion, is captured really well. However I felt that the book didn’t paint a picturesque scene for its audience unlike the first book.
The story mainly follows Willem and his attempt of finding Lulu and eventually finding his true purpose as well and I really like the tone that this book projected. Understanding Willem is also one of the main purpose of this book and I am glad that I finally understood him. Though I would have like more from the ending, I think Gayle Forman cleverly painted the idea of what he and Allyson’s fate was going to be like and I am satisfied with it.
Just One Year gets a…
Thumbs Up! It is a good companion novel with lots of interesting characters and exotic locales.
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