After the first book Just One Day it was kind of certain to me, that I had to know how the story about Alysson and Willem would continue. And to see it through his eyes and discover how that year had been for him was actually a perspective I was curious to discover. No doubt, this is a beautiful novel and Gayle Forman lets her story sound very harmonic with that language smooth as silk and that hint of melancholy in it. The change of perspective does something additional to it and so this second book is a wonderful reading pleasure for every fan of the author or Alysson and Willem.

Just One Year*
by Gayle Forman
Just One Day Duology #2
Publisher Speak on September 30, 2014
Genre Novel
Pages 352
Format Paperback
Source Publisher

When he opens his eyes, Willem doesn´t know where in the world he is – Prague or Dubrovnik or back in Amsterdam. All he knows is that he is once again alone, and that he needs to find a girl named Lulu. They shared one magical day in Paris, and something about that day – that girl – makes Willem wonder if they aren´t fated to be together. He travels all over the world, from Mexico to India, hoping to reconnect with her. But as months go by and Lulu remains elusive, Willem starts to question if the hand of fate is as strong as he´d thought …
Willem knows that he needs to be somewhere, but he doesn´t know where that is exactly. But that feeling deep inside him is telling him something. Something he can´t quite get a grip on. And so he does what he only knows to do: He starts searching for whatever it is, that keeps him thinking of that feeling. But how to find something when your brain is suffering from current amnesia and you have only a name? A name that doesn´t help very much and you aren´t even sure if it is the real name of the girl you are searching for?

From Willem´s point of view, the reader dives into a year of looking for something the protagonist knows and feels that is important to him. But since he has only the name “Lulu” and nothing else, he goes on a journey around the world always hoping to find the girl he is convinced is meant for him.
Willem´s journey is very emotional, unravels secrets and things he never knew from his family, shows him why some things are the way they are and bit by bit he learns that whatever he had on that special day with her – she is his destiny.

Gayle Forman has a clear, sometimes very poetic writing style and uses words like a music composer notes. It is kind of the same story as in book one, but completely different and still the reader goes through every up and down that Willem is experiencing on his search for Lulu. And what an end this book provides! There are some very dark and painful shadows that cloud the past of Willem´s family. His mother isn´t the kind of mother any of us know, and everyone is still mourning things that happened some while ago.

And though Lulu aka Alysson doesn´t show up in all the scenes, she is still very present in the story. Willem is thinking a lot about her, hears things nobody else hears, and has a fantastic feeling in which direction to turn – always hoping to find her.

The author shows a lot of different figures in this novel, shows that not everything is the way it seems at first sight and that when you follow your heart you will find things on the other end that can be quite surprising.

Yael, Willem´s mother, is a woman I wouldn´t call a caring one. She keeps her distance, treats her son as if he would be a stranger, and shows no real sign of any affection she could possibly care for him. It takes the reader some time to understand that Willem is his father too similar, looks way too much like him and that exactly that is the reason why she needs to keep him at arm´s length – it is simply too painful for her to look at him or have him around her.

Just One Year is a wonderful novel full of emotions and the beautiful places you can imagine. So if you are looking for a book to go on a journey around the world with a lot of ups and downs, then this is your book.

Happy reading

*I´ve read the German edition new release by Fischer FJB on March 22, 2016.

Gayle Forman
©Dennis Kleiman

Gayle Forman is an award-winning, internationally bestselling author and journalist. She is the author of Just One Day and Just One Year, and the companion e-novella Just One Night, as well as the New York Times bestsellers If I Stay and Where She Went. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband and daughters.


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