Review: Just One Year

Review: Just One YearTitle: Just One Year (Just One Day #2)
Author: Gayle Forman
Publisher: Dutton Children's Books
Release Date: October 10, 2013
Genre/Age Group: Contemporary, New Adult
Source: Gifted
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: 3 Stars

The heartrending conclusion—from Willem’s POV—to the romantic duet of novels that began with Allyson’s story in Just One Day.

After spending an amazing day and night together in Paris, Just One Year is Willem’s story, picking up where Just One Day ended. His story of their year of quiet longing and near misses is a perfect counterpoint to Allyson’s own as Willem undergoes a transformative journey, questioning his path, finding love, and ultimately, redefining himself.

my thoughts

When I just finished Just One Year, I gave it 4.5 stars. But the more I thought of it, the more frustrated I became. I think that at first I didn’t realize how many issues I actually had with this book. But the moment I started trying to write my review it hit me: I was disappointed. And conflicted. And very, very confused. This was my most anticipated fall release, one of my most anticipated releases ever. So naturally, when I discovered that Hannah was sweet enough to send it to me, I did a happy dance. I also may have cried. Only… it didn’t live up to my expectations. I guess I should have seen it coming. Just One Day was life-changing for me. How could a sequel possibly live up to that? But still, that’s what I was expecting.

Here’s the thing: Gayle Forman is one of my favorite authors. Her way with words is almost impeccable. She has the ability to write a story that is not just a story, and to write characters that are not just characters. I hope that makes sense. I love her stories and I love how her stories make me feel. Just One Day impressed me greatly, because I could relate to Allyson so well. It was filled with heart and struggle and I loved every single thing about it. And then here, in Just One Year, a book I doubted could live up to its prequel, Willem stole my heart. It’s so wonderful to see the other side of the story, and again get swept away in the journey Forman’s character go through.

And to be honest: I really did love the character development. Like any Gayle Forman novel, Just One Year focuses on the personal journey rather than the romantic one. Just One Day was about Allyson’s growth, and Just One Year is about Willem’s. Yes, we all had our doubts about Willem after that first book, because did we know him really? I’m glad to say that Just One Year surpassed my expectations in this aspect. We learn about Willem’s backstory and motives, which gives Just One Day (and especially the way Willem feels about Allyson) so much more meaning. I think that together, these books have great character development, but where Allyson’s story was strong on its own, Willem’s failed to impress me like that.

But where I loved Willem’s character, I mostly liked his journey for the way it changed Just One Day for me. This book was not life changing for me at all. It wasn’t that I struggled with it, really, but I just had a hard time focusing for most of the story. This is quite similar to how I felt about Where She Went, actually, except that in that one, I loved the ending. I guess I was expecting this book to do the same thing for me, but this ending? I would very much like to stab it now, please. Don’t get me wrong: the last part was great. I love love loved the second part of the book, where everything was coming together and it was all wonderful, and then… nothing. What?! View Spoiler »

Another thing that I know won’t be an issue for most of you is the use of Dutch words in this story. I really, really wasn’t a fan of this. At first I thought it was just me, but then Debby told me she felt the same way. See, I am Dutch, and Gayle Forman is not, so I understand that it is not quite the same for her as it is for me. Truth is, though, the translated words felt awkward and forced to me. Dutch guys my age would not propose to make their friend a borrelhapje, and randomly changing woman to vrouw doesn’t really add anything to the story. This was not a big concern of mine by any means, but it still didn’t work for me.

In conclusion, I mostly like Just One Year for Willem’s character development and the way that this story made Just One Day seem so much more believable to me. With the information I now have about Willem and the one year they spent apart, I am very excited to reread Just One Day. However, I’m not convinced that those are good enough reasons for me. I am convinced that it’s a good novel, but I didn’t like it like I thought I would, and that was a huge disappointment.

ps. I was unable to rate this book. I just don’t even know.

memorable quotes

Taken from the ARC.

“There’s a difference between losing something you knew you had and losing something you discovered you had. One is a disappointment. The other feels like losing a piece of yourself.”

“It was like she gave me her whole self, and somehow as a result, I gave her more of myself than I ever realized there was to give. But then she was gone. And only after I’d been filled up by her, by that day, did I understand how empty I really was.”

“I’m not even sure if it’s possible to simultaneaously love something and keep it safe. Loving someone is such an inherently dangerous act. And yet, love, that’s where safety lies.”

Judith is a 21 year old book blogger and reviewer, English student, part time magazine editor, compulsive book buyer, aspiring writer, proud book pusher, founder of Paper Riot and co-founder of the Recaptains. She is kind of addicted to Twitter. More?

13 Responses to “Review: Just One Year”

  1. Melissa @ Writer Grrl Reads says:

    I appreciate your honesty on this one! I know it’s so hard when I don’t absolutely ADORE a book that I’ve been anticipating, especially when all my blogging friends are gushing over it. But I love the way you described your reactions to the book, and it seems completely fitting that you would feel the way you do! I speak French as well as English, and I know that seeing French in books is sometimes jarring, especially when the words are just tossed in haphazardly, rather than adding something to the story. Whereas I’ve read other books that had, say, Arabic words mixed in, and thought it was super interesting to learn a bit about another language … but, who knows, someone who speaks Arabic could be completely annoyed by the same words that I found charming.

    Like I said on Twitter today, one of things that I love best about reading is to see people’s unique reactions to books, and this review is no exception! I’m still waiting on my library to get a copy, so I look forward to reading it, just to see whether I’ll like it as much as JOD, or not. Thanks for sharing this review!

  2. Haha, you kept this so much more civil than I did. *sigh* just sigh. Stupid freaking book and stupid freaking ending. AND OH THE AWKWARD DUTCH. ;_____; if I think about this book for much longer I will probably cry.

  3. Kim says:

    I have never read a book by Gayle Forman, but seeing a lot of raving reviews about her books around the blogosphere (including yours for Just One Day) I was really interested in reading them. I’m still really excited for books like Just One Day and If I Stay, but now I’m really hesitant for Just One Year. Those Dutch words would bother me IMMENSELY. I do really love the quotes you included!

  4. Cassie says:

    AHHH this makes me super sad! I’m glad you still somewhat enjoyed it, but I guess the expectations made if a fail in some ways for you.

    Since I didn’t connect AS MUCH to JOD, I think I was able to enjoy Willem’s story a ridiculous amount, especially the mother/son relationship, it was pretty interesting to me.

    Stupid expectations.

  5. So, perhaps it’s better to only read Just one day if I ever have the time to read it. I hate it when a book is so disappointing, especially when there is such a horrible ending.

  6. OK, I’ve decided that I’m not going here – I wasn’t in love with Just One Day and Just One Year would probably just make me more disappointed.

    Substuting woman for vrouw would irritate me – the only time anyone ever says vrouw is when the whole sentence is in Dutch.

    So sorry you were disappointed in it, I know how excited you were to read it :(

  7. Romi says:

    I’m so sorry that this one didn’t live up to your hopes- that happens so often when I’ve absolutely fallen in love with a book, and it’s always a huge let down. I’m glad it wasn’t all bad, and even though I really disliked the first book I enjoyed reading your review- the clickable spoiler (I’m not continuing with the series, so read it) does really annoy me, though, because I felt like Allyson did the exact same thing, and it really bugged me.
    Great review!

  8. I’m really sorry to hear that this one didn’t live up to your expectations! It comes out tomorrow and a couple of my friends and I are already super hyped up about it, but it sucks to hear that it wasn’t everything you thought it was going to be and that it didn’t change your life the way Just One Day did – and just a side note, that one totally changed me too. Regardless I’ll be buying this one tomorrow and devouring it all the same. I really hope I love it!
    Lovely review, Judith!

  9. OKAY. I have successfully completed Just One Year and I am now reading all the reviews that I avoided before I read it.
    I hated the way it ended too.
    I was ENRAGED for a good hour at least until I somewhat calmed down but I’m still left feeling abandoned, just a little bit.
    I actually really enjoyed Willem’s story too but yes, I feel like the whole point of these two novels were to connect these characters again after they had gone through their realizations of their own personal lives sooooooooo. (UGH I’m writing spoilers in the comments. Okay, I’ll stop)
    Anyway. I just wanted SO MUCH MORE from the ending. I won’t write spoilers here because that would be terrible but yes. My feelings exactly. I need to start my review for this and I don’t know how to haha. I’m just so upset that it REALLY affected the whole outcome of this book and that’s how the SERIES ended. Hm.

  10. Well, this sounds a little disappointing. But at the very least, I have Just One Day! That’s one that people just generally love, and I can’t wait to read it. Your enthusiasm for JOD is really clear from your review.

    Another great review, Judith! I was actually planning on buying it if I ever saw it, but your review certainly made me think otherwise. I’d be looking out for a few more reviews for this one.

  11. meeeeeps I’m really sad you didn’t like this one, but sometimes when language finds its way into a story it can ruin things :( I also hear not loving the ending. But I really did like the way it ends the same way Just One Day ends… I don’t know, I feel like we have all the info necessary to imagine what happens to them next (Willem is in NYC and I will now go find him) and any conversation they might have had would have had to be like 100 pages long for me to be totally satisfied. THERE IS SO MUCH I NEEDED THEM TO SAY TO EACH OTHER. It’s almost better for me that they said nothing at all.

  12. Pauleine says:

    I have never dropped any comment before in any of the reviews I read. But I cannot help it. I just finished JOD in the wee hours of Friday and even until now, I can’t get a grip of myself from sobbing too hard. I have never been depressed of a book before. After reading a good amount of books, the anticipation of reading JOD was absolutely different. I thought I was the only one feeling it and I have no one else to talk to (besides doing a monologue on Twitter) about the book since my friends find JOD long for their liking.I started reading JOY the day after and all I can manage is a couple of pages every night. Especially after readin numerous reviews (including yours :D), I think I dont want to know how this flippin book ends.

  13. Hi sweet friend! I can’t believe I never commented on this or on the post where you talked about receiving the book in a video. I’m so glad I was able to surprise you! It was so much fun to send that your way and anxiously await its arrival :)

    I’m sad you didn’t love this one, but I also totally get it. I wondered how you’d feel about it since you connected so personally to the first book. Sometimes I think it’s hard to live up to something like that, you know? I actually really like the ending and got to hear Gayle talk about it at a signing. It was interesting to hear what she said about why she ended it at that place. Wish I’d taken notes so I could share! I do think that part of the problem with JOY was the way it was marketed. It shouldn’t have been billed as picking up right where JOD ended.

    Anywayyyy, so happy that I got to send you some bookish love! xo

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