Expected Publication: October 15, 2013
Publisher: Dutton Children's
After spending an amazing day and night together in Paris, Just One Yearis 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.
"I’m not sure it’s possible to simultaneously love something and keep it safe. Loving someone is such an inherently dangerous act. And yet, love, that’s where safety lives."
Wow! What an absolute treat! I've been looking forward to Just One Year since the moment I finished the first book in this series. Just One Day left me with a craving and curiosity to dive even deeper into the lives of Forman's newest cast of characters, where Allyson and Willem enjoy a chance meeting that unfortunately ends after just one day.
First off I must say Just One Year did not disappoint one bit. It surprised me in more ways than one, but it also lived up to my expectations of the magic Forman is able to create when she blends her characters, setting and narrative to deliver an experience that marks writing at its best. Where I've often commended Australian authors for the authenticity and realism they are able to create, Forman’s powerful yet subtle approach to bringing her characters to life brands her as a writer worthy of applause.
What I loved most about this book was that I remember wanting to know so much more about Willem than what we got in Just one Day. He came across as such a mystery that I couldn't wait to uncover. Well, in his story we truly get to peel back the layers of this intricate character as we travel with him through the cities and streets of Amsterdam, Utrecht, Mexico, and Mumbai in a quest to find a girl he met one day in Paris. After months of traveling, retracing steps, wondering what he’s possibly missed that might help him find her, he realizes that before he can accomplish that, he must first find himself.
There was so much depth to his life that the first book only touched the surface of, and when he takes the stage in this newest installment, we discover an entirely different Willem that I ever thought possible in book one. To learn about what he’d recently lost that molded the person he was when he met Allyson, struck an emotional chord that drove the intensity of his journey throughout this novel.
"I miss my father… I miss my grandfather. I miss my home. And I miss my mother. But the thing is, for almost three years, I managed not to miss any of them. And then I spent that one day with that one girl. One day. One day of watching the rise and fall of her sleep under the rolling clouds in that park and feeling so peaceful that I fell asleep myself. One day of being under her protection…her grip so strong that it felt like we were one person, not two. One day of being the beneficiary of her strange generosity – the barge ride, the watch, that honesty, her willingness to show fear, her willingness to show courage. It was like she gave me her whole self, and some how as a result, I gave her more of myself than I even realized there was to give. But then she was gone. And only after I’ve been filled up by her, by that day, did I understand how empty I really was."
It's moments like this throughout the novel that add that emotional element driving the narrative to an exceptional level. Forman truly has a way with words that offer insight and revelation in one powerful surge.
In addition, we got a chance to meet a carefully crafted secondary cast that pushes and pulls the novel in various directions steering the flow of the story in perfect cadence with Willem’s journey. To meet Willem’s family, friends and acquaintances was quite the experience. I loved his band of friends that helped him on his quest to find “Lulu” and I enjoyed reading about his family that molded Willem in unique ways. I believe this book marks one of Forman’s more character driven novels as she skillfully uses the cast to build on the drama and intensity at perfect moments throughout.
On a final note, I have to share the power of the flashback moments in Paris. To see how that day branded him in ways the events of the last twenty-one years haven’t quite managed to do was quite emotional. My only regret was not reading both books back to back because there were moments that I wondered how close these two characters came to finding each other throughout the book. However, I guess the beauty in these missed opportunities lies in the fact that they weren’t quite ready to collide until they both discovered themselves first.
As with most authors that move me with their stories, I can never quite get enough. Having enjoyed Allyson and Willem’s stories in their separate stages, I wonder will they one day get a novel that brings them together from beginning to end? As much as I have to admit their story is complete and my imagination can take it from here, this is one of the few times when I wish Forman would keep telling us more. :) Love this book to pieces!
"Bravery was doing something dangerous without thinking. Courage was walking into danger, knowing full well the risks."
*Quotes were taken from an ARC edition of the book.