BOOK REPORT for Just One Year by Gayle Forman

Cover Story: Can't Celebrities Afford To Get A Room?
BFF Charm: With Benefits
Swoonworthy Scale: 5
Talky Talk: Straight Up
Bonus Factors: Missed Connections, Globetrotting
Relationship Status: Mature

Just One Year

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Cover Story: Can't Celebrities Afford To Get A Room?

This cover was doing just fine with the title and Gayle Forman's name, and then this couple goes and ruins it for everyone with their PDA. Seriously, people, what the—wait. Is that John Mayer? Making out with a Hackers-era Angelina Jolie? Damn, Katy and Brad are gonna be PISSED.

The Deal:

Have you read Just One Day yet? If not, you obviously don't know what's good for you. Close this window on your browser, then open up a new one so you can purchase Just One Day immediately. YOU'RE WELCOME.

If you have read Just One Day, then you've spent the last year IN AGONY wondering what the hell happened after Allyson finds Willem. You may even have a few Tweets living in your drafts folder that all begin with "@gayleforman" and end with something along the lines of, "HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO ME?" and "CAN I AT LEAST GET A HINT?"

Well, I'm happy (and relieved) to inform you that Forman makes all of that torture worthwhile with Just One Year. Beginning the morning after Willem and Allyson's day in Paris, this is the story of the following 12 months in Willem's life as he searches for Lulu and, ultimately, himself. From Amsterdam to Mexico to India and back again, his quest leads to a past that can no longer be ignored and a future torn open by the possibility of love.

BFF Charm: With Benefits

BFF with Benefits

Look, Willem, I know that you're head over heels for Lulu, but if you need to talk, or grab a drink, or just indulge in a quick make-out session, I'm here for you, man. Whatever I can do to help, you know? You're passionate and tortured and totally gorgeous, and I care deeply about your smokin' hot body well-being. But seriously, you are SUCH a great guy, and it's incredibly moving to witness your journey toward healing and maturity. (I mean, let's be honest, you had some growing up to do before you deserved Lulu.) With that said, I enjoyed getting to know you even more than Allyson, and not just because I want to jump your bones. Your worldly background and thirst for adventure make you a fascinating specimen, and your underlying tenderness is poignantly compelling. So, if you ever find yourself with an inordinate amount of unoccupied room in your bed, just call me, because that's totally what friends are for.

Swoonworthy Scale: 5

Being inside Willem's sexy little head accounts for much of the swoon in this story, especially since thoughts of Lulu take up so much of his brain space. We know how she feels about him, now we learn how he perceives her, and it's just as romantic as I'd hoped. Allyson pictures herself as an awkward goody goody, but Willem sees her as a brave, beautiful force of nature. His obsession with her is desperate in all of the right (non-creepy) ways, and try as he might, he just can't move on. There's nothing hotter than a boy who remains fixated on a girl in spite of attractive distractions (and believe me, there are plenty). While it was satisfying to revisit that day in Paris through Willem's eyes, I did miss the building tension that made the pages of Just One Day sizzle with uncertainty. But Willem's longing for Lulu still makes for plenty of heart-melting action, and their missed connections did quite a number on my blood pressure.*

*Gayle Forman, my doctor will be billing you directly. 

Talky Talk: Straight Up

Gayle Forman is one of those writers that makes it so easy to read her books. From the first page, you slip effortlessly into a story with characters that at once seem familiar and fleshed out. She whisks you away with Willem on vivid explorations of foreign lands that crackle with color, then takes you on far more intimate trips through his emotions. As I learned with Where She Went, Forman deftly handles the male perspective, and the boy dialogue feels authentic without ever getting bro-tastic. The pacing of the novel meanders, but only so we can savor the sights along the way, and the story picks up enough speed to deliver a satisfying climax. 

Bonus Factor: Missed Connections

Serendipity

If you enjoy being driven crazy, I recommend skimming Just One Day before cracking open Just One Year so you will know all of the moments when Willem is infuriatingly close to finding Allyson. In other words, AUUUGHHHHHHH.

Bonus Factor: Globetrotting

Carmen Sandiego

Looking for a cheap vacay? This book will take you to three different countries! I was particularly enchanted by Willem's time in India, which is a place I never thought I wanted to visit until I realized I could be an extra in a Bollywood movie.  

Casting Call:

I'm sticking with my original cast, who have served my imagination quite well. Thanks, Freddie Stroma! 

Relationship Status: Mature

While I enjoyed the flirtatious nature of this book's predecessor, I was pleased to discover that Just One Year isn't a tease. It's serious, complex and wonderfully cosmopolitan. This novel took me on a trip through a variety of emotional landscapes, and though I wish it had made some moves on me, I respect the fact that it wanted to take things slow. I found our time together to be wonderfully gratifying, and I will forever appreciate the way it satiated my curiosity while leaving me hungry for more. 

Just One Year is available now. 

Sarah lives in Austin, TX, where she programs films at the Alamo Drafthouse. The founder of Forever Young Adult, she enjoys fancy cocktails, dance parties and anything that sparkles (except vampires).