Cover of Just One Day, with a white girl with brown hair stares out of the window at a European building with her hand (big watch on her wrist) under her chin and a cup of coffee in the other hand

About the Book

Title: Just One Day (Just One Day #1)
Published: 2013
Series: Just One Day
Swoonworthy Scale: 7

Cover Story: Legit
BFF Charm: Eventually
Talky Talk: Straight Up
Bonus Factors: Paris,Before Sunrise, Shakespeare, European Backpacking, College
Relationship Status: Whirlwind Romance

Cover Story: Legit

Is this the most exciting cover of all time? No. Do I wish it was a photo compilation of all of the French cuisine described in the book? Yes. But food porn aside, the artwork on this book is extremely faithful to the story. Allyson looks like Allyson, which is to say Louise Brooks. She’s wearing the huge-ass bling watch her mom gave her, and she’s gazing out at a European cityscape with burgeoning wanderlust in her eyes. It’s refreshing to see such an accurate cover, although would it have killed them to insert a macaron into her mouth? 

The Deal:

Allyson is what some people would refer to as a good girl. Less polite people, aka teenage females, would refer to her as a stuck up goody-goody. I refer to her as high school me, but with parents who let her go to Europe after her senior year. In spite of being lucky enough to go to Europe at age 18 (fine, yes, I’m jealous), Allyson hasn’t actually enjoyed touring a string of foreign cities with dozens of fellow teenagers who only want to get hammered at the local pub. In fact, Allyson hasn’t really enjoyed anything about her life in quite a while. Her mom has planned every moment, from Allyson’s clothes to her medical school choices, and her horizon is flat and utterly gray. So when Allyson meets Willem, a Danish actor in a renegade Shakespeare troupe, and he asks her to spend a day in Paris with him, she decides to change her life with three letters: YES. Suddenly, she’s a different kind of girl, the kind that relishes adventure and follows strange boys to astonishing places. But Allyson quickly learns that a charming guy and a foreign city aren’t enough–if she really wants to change, she has to do it herself. 

BFF Charm: Eventually

BFF Charm with a sweatband on

It took me a while to warm up to Allyson, and ironically, it’s because she is a lot like my teenage self. She’s uptight and anxious and has absolutely no confidence when it comes to boys. Her internal freak-outs initially drove me craaaaazy cakes, but I completely understood her confusion. I just wanted her to get over it a lot faster than I ever did because seriously, jump Willem’s bones already! And also, when girl got depressed, DAMN. It SUCKED, and there was nothing I could do about it. Over the course of the story, she takes more risks, and gains more courage, and by the end, I was so proud of her, I wanted to go to one of those kids’ party places where they have trampolines everywhere so I could jump and jump and jump with joy. Allyson is a real, live teenager, artfully drawn with crippling emotion and soaring hormones, and I cherished our journey together. Also, seriously, let’s go to one of those trampoline places because they are AWESOME.

P.S. Allyson, make sure you invite Dee, your college bestie, so I can try to steal him from you. Dee is the coolest and weirdest and I am dying to know what brand of lip gloss he wears.

Swoonworthy Scale: 7

Willem! You are smokin’ hot! I can’t say I ever really trusted you, but who needs trust when there’s so much SEXINESS? You’re a wise wanderer, you’re a fierce thespian, and you really know how to show a girl a good time in Paris. And by good time, I mean, there is actual S-E-X in this book, y’all. And it’s of the safe variety. WHAT WHAT! In addition to horizontal times, there’s a lot of uncertainty in Willem and Allyson’s relationship, which makes the swoon that much more scintillating. And maddening. In the words of the bard Britney Spears, Willem, you drive me crazy!

Talky Talk: Straight Up

At FYA HQ, we’re big fans of Gayle Forman. In fact, if there was a Tiger Beat of YA authors*, we would totes have her poster tacked to our wall. Her writing is always authentic, tinged with beautifully nuanced emotion, and this latest novel is no exception. Allyson’s voice is clear and vibrant, and all of the characters, from her mother to a random group of Danes playing poker on a barge, are expertly layered. The descriptions of Allyson’s European explorations shimmer and sparkle on the page, and her emotional travels are even more vivid. I didn’t expect the timeline of the book, but I’m not surprised that Forman chose to take the deeper, more treacherous path in her writing. As always, thanks to her careful guidance, I emerged enraptured and enchanted.


Bonus Factor: Paris

Skyline of Paris France with Eiffel Tower in back

Paris! Home to croissants, people with no apparent jobs and copious amounts of wine! I had a blast rediscovering my favorite city through Allyson’s eyes, and I now feel the need to conduct my own Tour de Macaron. Seriously, FYA Field Trip to Paris: who’s in?!

Bonus Factor: Before Sunrise

Ethan Hawke and Julie Delphy from Before Sunrise walking the street

Sure, my dad would say it’s incredibly dangerous to go off in a foreign city with a random stranger, but it’s also incredibly romantic. Willem and Allyson just have one day (and night!!!) together, and they most definitely make the most of it. SA-WOON.

Bonus Factor: Shakespeare

Bust of William Shakespeare

I wouldn’t say that I’m involved with Shakespeare (I’m no Mandella), but I definitely dig the guy’s work. And Forman weaves his plays, especially As You Like It, into the emotional fabric of the story in a completely compelling fashion.

Bonus Factor: European Backpacking

I’m way too old to stay in a hostel now, but reading about Allyson’s adventures made me nostalgic for the two weeks I spent traipsing around Europe. The amazing sights! The crazy bars! The friendly fellow travelers! The serendipity and freedom of randomly pointing to a dot on the map and saying, “Let’s go there.” It makes me wish I was young again, and then I remember washing my underwear in the sink and hauling around a humongous backpack and yeah, I’ll just live vicariously through Allyson, KTHX.

Bonus Factor: College

Elle Woods in a Harvard classroom

College is one of our milk carton qualities over at FYA. And by that I mean, it’s missing in many YA books, and we’re always happy to experience it when we can. Allyson’s experience isn’t actually that great, but it is most definitely realistic. 

Relationship Status: Whirlwind Romance 

Surrounded by the beauty of Europe and the promise of adventure, there was no way I could resist this book. It oozed sensuality and radiated charm, but it also nursed a dark, complex side, and I couldn’t rest until I knew every facet of it, inside and out. Our relationship was always thrilling, occasionally bordering on volatile, but I never doubted that I was in the presence of something special. This book thrilled me and impressed me and yes, even depressed me, and I will never regret the magical weekend I spent in its arms. When its sequel comes calling next fall, I won’t expect it to be the same, because nothing could recapture the flame of our time together. But you better believe I’ll be reading it. (I just need to stock up on macarons and French wine first.)

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my free review copy from publisher. This review was originally posted on Kirkus Reviews in exchange for monetary compensation, which did not affect or influence my opinions.

Sarah lives in Austin, and believes there is no such thing as a guilty pleasure, which is part of why she started FYA in 2009. Growing up, she thought she was a Mary Anne, but she's finally starting to accept the fact that she's actually a Kristy.