A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Just One Year, the companion novel to author Gayle Forman's romantic young-adult novel Just One Day, covers the same time period as the first book but from the perspective of Willem, Allyson's enigmatic Dutch love interest. Reflecting Willem's age (20) and edgier lifestyle, Just One Year has more violence and sex than Just One Day: Willem suffers a vicious attack that leaves him unconscious; more sexually experienced than Allyson, he often recalls encounters with past lovers. Characters drink and smoke, including hash/pot (legal in the Netherlands). As in Just One Day, there's plenty of strong language ("f--k," "s--t," "bitch").
What's the story?
JUST ONE YEAR revisits roughly the same time period of Just One Day, starting from the crucial morning when Willem does not return to Lulu after their life-changing, 24-hour adventure in Paris together. Injured, hospitalized, and temporarily without short-term memory, Willem can't recall where he was or who he was with until it's too late and a devastated Lulu (Allyson) has already fled back to London. Willem reluctantly returns home to the Netherlands for family business. Forced to confront his issues with his grief, his distant mother, and his out-of-the-loop friends, he can't forget that fateful day with Lulu, a girl unlike all the others he'd connected with in his years of escape-driven travel.
Is it any good?
Readers who can get past expecting another Where She Went will find a lovingly crafted account of the way some relationships stick with you forever and of how a guy becomes a man.
For the second time, Gayle Forman revisits a romance from the guy's perspective. In Where She Went, Adam knew nearly everything about Mia, the love of his life who almost died and then enigmatically broke up with him. Here, Willem doesn't even know Lulu's real name and only remembers one full day of intense connection. Hence Just One Year becomes less a story of reunion than of Willem's journey of self-discovery as he tries to understand why he travels so much and why he can't truly commit to any interested women.
Just One Day reveals that Willem and Allyson will meet again, but Forman here focuses less on the romantic reunion than on the journey back home, however defined: a place, a person, or the realization that there are people who love you. It's a powerful story but more brooding and resentful than Forman's previous work.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether this book is "young adult" or that new genre of books about college-age protagonists, "new adult." Does the age of the main character have any bearing on who should read the book?
How are Shakespeare's works important in Just One Year? Do you see any Shakespearean elements in the characters and the plot?
How is Allyson's relationship with her parents (in Just One Day) different from Willem's with his?
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