Monday, March 25, 2013

YA Book Club: Just One Day

Words on Paper

So excited to participate in YA Book Club this month! YA Book Club is hosted by Tracey Neithercott and this month we are discussing Just One Day by Gayle Forman.

From Goodreads:
Just One Day (Just One Day, #1)

A breathtaking journey toward self-discovery and true love, from the author of If I Stay

When sheltered American good girl Allyson "LuLu" Healey first meets laid-back Dutch actor Willem De Ruiter at an underground performance of Twelfth Night in England, there’s an undeniable spark. After just one day together, that spark bursts into a flame, or so it seems to Allyson, until the following morning, when she wakes up after a whirlwind day in Paris to discover that Willem has left. Over the next year, Allyson embarks on a journey to come to terms with the narrow confines of her life, and through Shakespeare, travel, and a quest for her almost-true-love, to break free of those confines.

Just One Day is the first in a sweepingly romantic duet of novels. Willem’s story—Just One Year—is coming soon!

I loved this book so much.

Okay, I will admit, I wasn't too sure about it at first. I had recently rewatched the movie "Taken" and couldn't stop thinking about that. At times, Allyson drove me crazy. However, I ended up loving it. I rarely ever reread books, but I am kicking myself for not buying a copy of this book (I got it from the library) because I already want to read it again.

I could relate to the main character, Allyson, in so many ways. I think I was (am?) a sheltered good girl. I was a lot like Allyson at that age, wanting to please my parents, having a lack of confidence, trying to figure out who I was. At times I got frustrated with Allyson, but I couldn't help but like her because I saw so much of myself in her.

Another thing I loved was the setting. I absolutely love Paris, and always have. In 6th grade I was in French Back to Back. My parents didn't let me travel to France, but we hosted a French student for 3 weeks. I was hooked. I could not wait to get to high school so I could take French, and it was everything I hoped it would be. I finally got to go to Paris during my senior year of college and I loved it. I can't wait to go back someday! (Hopefully next year?!) I will say, however, that I thought their day in Paris kind of sucked. It's not how I would have wanted to spend a day in Paris at all! But I get it. It was right for Allyson and Willem. It was the day Allyson needed to have.

This book is just amazing, and I highly recommend it. Obviously, I cannot wait to read Just One Year, the sequel, which is from Willem's point of view.

Ugh, just talking about this book right now is making me want to reread it!! But I never reread books! I have a feeling I will be placing an Amazon order soon.

So...I kind of had my own little Just One Day experience once. It wasn't nearly as romantic or life-changing as Allyson's, but it still made an impact on me. And since I never get to tell this story, I thought now would be the perfect time.

During my senior year of college, I spent a semester abroad in England. It was one of the best experiences of my life. During that semester, we had about 3 weeks off for Fall Break, and everyone backpacked around Europe. I traveled with two girls from the group.

One of our stops was Switzerland. While there, my travel partners wanted to ice climb. I decided not to join them. First, I hate cold weather. Second, these two girls were best friends and I often either felt like a third wheel, or that I was interfering on their trip. So I decided to give them some space and do my own thing.

We were in the Alps, which are breathtaking. I decided to take the train up to Jungfraujoch, the highest train station in Europe. There's a bunch of stuff to do once you get there, like exhibits, amazing views, restaurants, etc. They had a video you could watch, and I thought that would be a good way to get started so I headed over there. I was the first person to arrive, so I sat and waited. A guy came up to me and after saying hi, asked me, "Where are you from?"

During my time in Europe, I never knew how to answer that! Do I say the US? Chicago? Illinois? I never said the name of the suburb I was from or my college, because no one would know where those places were. So I said, "The United States." haha. So lame. He was like, "Yeah, I know. Where?" I said, "Chicago." He said, "Are you actually from Chicago? Because I'm from San Francisco and I hate when people say they're from San Francisco and they are actually from someone nearby." I admitted I was not, in fact, from Chicago, but from a suburb. We ended up talking for awhile and then watching the movie together.

After the movie was over, we ended up spending the whole day together. We never actually said anything like "Hey, want to hang out today?" but it just happened. We explored, walked around, looked at the view. When we decided to break for lunch, we even ended up finding each other again in the crowd. It just happened. We even left the station at the same time and ended up sitting together on the train back.

Here's the thing. I barely knew anything about him. We never exchanged information or said we'd stay in touch. But we spent the whole day together and had a really nice time. I think his name was Mark. I think he said he had a sister. I remember him teasing me because I was so much younger than him. (I was 21 at the time and he was in his late 20s). I remember on the train ride back that he was wearing some kind of windbreaker jacket that he could fold up really small and carry in his pocket.

I have no pictures of our day together. No proof that I met this guy or spent the day with him. This was back in the day before everyone had digital cameras (I'm so old!) and no one was doing the self-portrait type pictures. No one around us spoke English, so it would have been hard to ask someone to take a picture of us. And how would I even ask this guy, who I just met, if I could get a picture of us together?!

Unfortunately, my memories of this day are fuzzy (oh how I wish I was into journaling! My biggest regret in life). However, here's why it was so important to me. As I mentioned before, I was a bit reserved and sheltered. I never took chances or stepped out of my comfort zone. I didn't have much self confidence. I never struck up conversations with cute, older guys and spent the day with them. But this time I did! I had an amazing day in Switzerland and I will never forget that.