Just One Year by Gayle Forman | Book Review (NO SPOILERS)

12842134Book Title/Author: Just One Year by Gayle Forman
: Dutton Juvenile – October 2013
Genre: Contemporary YA
Series: It’s a duology and Just One Day is book 1!
Other Books From Author:
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I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!




Just One Year starts out with Willem in the hospital and chronicles the next year after his infamous day with Allyson as he longs for her but also spends the year trying to find himself and what he is about. Yep, that’s all I’m giving you on what this book is about. Be prepared for great character growth and some special relationships that don’t even have to do with Allyson.

Honestly…how can I ever review a Gayle Forman book? The thought of it makes my palms sweaty and my stomach a little queasy because my words just feel paltry and unable to even give a glimpse of how special her books are. There is just something about her novels that always resonate in the depths of me that only a very, very select few can do consistently. Just One Year undoubtedly raised the bar of what I come to expect from companion novels — and really just books in general.

Right off the bat I was eager to dive into Just One Year. We KNOW where Just One Day leaves off (!!!) so I was chomping at the bit to see what Willem had been up to for that year and to make our way to the point in which Just One Day ends. On one hand I found myself wanting to fly through the book to get to THE PART but on the other hand I just felt deep down that I wanted to give Willem the proper time and attention and enjoy his journey because really we don’t KNOW Willem all that well from Just One Day and we all have a million questions about what happened to him.

Just One Year was just so COMPLETE for me. I felt like Willem was just this character that I knew but I didn’t really KNOW and experiencing his story gave so much more depth to Just One Day. It complemented it so perfectly without RELYING on it if that makes sense. Willem’s story is not what we see in Just One Day — it’s larger than that. The events of Just One Day are only a sliver of his life and I was so pleased at the masterful way Willem came to life and was given even more depth.

His story is heartbreaking and also heartwarming and I found myself relating to Willem in ways I couldn’t have imagined. Willem’s growth was so perfect and I just absolutely fell in love with him. I LOVED that Gayle Forman made him SO REAL. Sure, he thinks about Lulu/Allyson but he’s not sitting there vowing celibacy or putting his life on hold until he finds her. His life moves on but he can’t stop shaking that feeling of having changed and contemplating the person who planted that seed of change and he doesn’t know what to do with that.  I loved watching him grapple with all of it but my heart simultaneously felt weighty right along with his broken self. God, Gayle, how do you DO that? As much as I wanted him to obviously emerge like a rom com hero and not stop at anything to find her, I really wanted him to find himself and I’m so grateful for Gayle staying true to her characters and giving me a story that isn’t just hinged on a romance but on a real person with a real story and a real journey.

The term “waited with bated breath” was never so apt a description until I read Just One Year. Gayle so perfectly takes us on Willem’s journey (the travel bug in you will salivate) and simultaneously has you just waiting for the moment when they will be reunited. I found myself holding my breath thinking THIS COULD BE THE MOMENT a few times. There are some parallels of things that show up in both books and I was talking to my friend Ginger about how I kind of wished I reread JOD right before so I could have them perfectly aligned in my mind but she made me think about how FUN it was to be guessing and NOT knowing.

I know I’ll get asked if I liked Just One Day or Just One Year more and that’s impossible to say because they resonated with me for different reasons and took me on special journeys that truly did impact me. I can only say that I think at the time when I read Just One Day it impacted me enough to take some action in my life — it found me when I needed it.


Just One Year was flawless for me — everything I could have hoped for and more. Had all the amazing characteristics of a Gayle Forman novel — superb writing, thought provoking, depth in story & character development, heart and soul — and I loved Willem’s physical journey as well as his journey to find happiness, love (read: not just romance) and ultimately himself. If you are looking for a novel that truly doesn’t hinge itself on a romance, even though we know Allyson & Willem’s one day together was special & life altering, this will be so satisfying for you as it was for me. I don’t reread often but Just One Day and Just One Year are going to be stories I need to revisit again and again. I feel like I can never show enough gratitude to Gayle Forman for Just One Day and Just One Year — a most perfect duology that truly did impact me enough to actually change things about my life.

Just One Year Gayle Forman book review


Let’s Talk: Have you read this?? Are you DYING to read it??

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About Jamie

Jamie is a 32 year old married lady (with a new baby!!) who is in denial that she's actually that old to be a married lady and a mom. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, belting out Hamilton (loud and offkey) and having adventures with her husband, daughter and rescue dog.


  1. I’m so jealous that you’ve gotten to read this already. I was looking forward to it before reading your review but now I’m even more excited. So glad you loved it. It sounds like it will be even better than Just One Day.

  2. “it found me when I needed it.” That is always and forever my favorite thing someone can say about a book. I’m looking so much more forward to it now.

  3. Gayle Foreman is amazing and her books can easily be reread over and over! I still have to get started with this series, but it’s high on my need-to-be-read-ASAP. list 🙂

  4. It’s always nice when something you have thoroughly anticipate does not disappoint. Somehow I have failed to read any Gayle Forman novels yet. This appears to be something I need to remedy right quick. Great review!

  5. I am so excited to read this! I am so glad you really liked it!

  6. I’m getting my copy in the mail hopefully this week. I will definitely come back and book talk with you about it!


    thanks for your review, jamie~

  8. Great review. I haven’t read Just One Day, but I will certainly do so 😉

  9. What a great review! I can’t wait to read JOY. After reading JOD I’m craving Willem’s story and what happened to him during that year. So glad to hear you enjoyed it!
    Just like you JOD changed my life in a big way, so I can’t wait to see what impact this book will have. Gayle Forman truly writes wonderful and inspiring stories.

  10. Still haven’t read JOD. *sigh* I need to see if my library has it because it seems like it was such a great book. I remember how much it inspired you. It’s so cool that you left us guessing about JOY – I like that a lot. It’s always daunting reviewing a book by a favorite author, and how awesome/scary that this one raised the bar for you! Lovely review, Jamie!

    Molli | Once Upon a Prologue

  11. I finished Just One Day today and I really want the sequel. The story does “resonate” like you said. It makes me think and it makes me want to be a better person, so yeah, love Gayle Forman. I’m glad to see JOY is just as good.

  12. AAHHH!! I can’t wait to read this, the first book was awesome! How is Gayle capable of making it even sadder and even more in depth…. I’m probably going to cry.

  13. Oh girl! I SO AGREE WITH YOU ON EVERYTHING YOU’VE SAID ABOUT THIS BOOK. Sweet Magan surprised me with her copy, and I immediately dropped everything because I knew I just had to read this book. I actually decided to re-read Just One Day first, and I’m so glad I did! As you mentioned, it helped me line everything up and see how the two stories fit together and complemented each other so nicely. I had a feeling I’d love this book, but I had no idea I’d be as crazy about it as I am! And you’re right – wanderlust was kicked into high gear with this one!

  14. You can’t compare JOY and JOD, but I think I liked this more–but not because of anything wrong with Just One Day. Allyson bugged the hell out of me at times, probably because I saw a lot of my younger self in her. What I liked about both books was how Gayle Forman subtly shows how their actions and personalities really led to this one day, in both good and bad ways.

    I also kept wondering which events overlapped and I hope someone does a list. I know there’s the party in Mexico, but I feel like there was something about Bollywood in Just One Day? Or am I just making that up?

  15. I just finished reading Just One Year last night, and I have to say — great review! I agree with so much of what you’ve said. I especially love that even though the romance matters, it’s not what’s most important. The journey of the two characters to find themselves and become the people they were meant to be is so lovely. And I also thought it was remarkable that Just One Year kept me in suspense the whole time, even though we know already from Just One Day how it will work out. Such a great way to drive home the fact that it’s the journey that counts! I’m gushing… can you tell I’m still on cloud 9 from reading this book? I haven’t read Gayle Forman’s other books yet, which is a situation that I need to correct right away!


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