by: Gayle Forman
It all started when follow-all-the-rules Allyson forgoes the previously planned production of Hamlet with her tour group; instead seeing the underground version of Twelfth Night. And him. With a few exchanged glances, and nothing more, Allyson and her bff set off on their last day of the trip, never to see the boy again. But, in a chance (fate?) meeting on the train, Allyson and Willem are reunited. And then goody two shoes Allyson becomes adventurous Lulu and runs off with Willem to spend her final day in Paris. After a whirlwind day (and night), Willem is gone and Allyson is left picking up the pieces.
I've heard much raving about Forman's previous series (If I Stay, Where She Went) and decided to give this new one a shot. I've become rather fond of a good contemporary novel, and in many ways, this one fit the bill. Forman's writing is smooth and comforting. And as a pretty "good girl" myself, I could definitely see a bit of myself in Allyson.
I think where things went a little awry was with Willem. I just didn't really like him. Though I get the whole British charm, I wasn't sold on his bad boy character or why he was worth so much pining.
But, I did appreciate what the Willem experience meant for Allyson. Spending a lifetime following the carefully laid plain that Allyson had laid out for herself, and the Paris trip was just the beginning, a crack in the armor. And when she got back, that crack started to expand and take over. College is a time of great personal introspection and change. Much more so than high school because you are forced to be removed from your routine. So, when Allyson begins to struggle in school, I get that. And I think it's a lot less to do with the experience with Willem and more about realizing that what you planned sometimes isn't the right path for you, and that's okay.
Which is why the ending of the novel didn't really work for me. I know. I'm such a fuddy duddy and I'll have people screaming at me, "BUT TRUE WUV!" I get all that. But, Willem is such a bore. Sorry guys.
In regards to the upcoming sequel Just One Year, I might read it. Just to see if Willem is the jerk I think he is. Who knows? He seems like the kind of guy that just might surprise you.