Just One Day
Author: Gayle Forman
Publication Date: August 20, 2013
Genre/Format: Realistic Fiction
GoodReads Summary: Allyson Healey's life is exactly like her suitcase—packed, planned, ordered. Then on the last day of her three-week post-graduation European tour, she meets Willem. A free-spirited, roving actor, Willem is everything she’s not, and when he invites her to abandon her plans and come to Paris with him, Allyson says yes. This uncharacteristic decision leads to a day of risk and romance, liberation and intimacy: 24 hours that will transform Allyson’s life.
A book about love, heartbreak, travel, identity, and the “accidents” of fate, Just One Day shows us how sometimes in order to get found, you first have to get lost. . . and how often the people we are seeking are much closer than we know.
The first in a sweepingly romantic duet of novels. Willem’s story—Just One Year—is coming soon!
What I Think: When I was a sophomore in high school, I toured Italy with the orchestra. It was an amazing trip that I will never forget. It's the only and only time I have ever been to Europe. While I would love to go back I'm not sure how likely it is that I'll visit again any time soon. A guided tour sets the stage for Allyson's story. I love the bit of adventure - although somewhat reckless - that encompasses this story. As I work with teachers and students on digital citizenship, there is definitely this element of discussing choices that students make on and off technology. While Allyson makes a choice to abandon her plans, her friend and the safety of the guided tour/trip that she's on, it's definitely a choice I might discuss with students. I'm certain students would be able to see how dangerous it might have been for Allyson and this seems like it could be the start of a great conversation about the decisions we - adults, teens, people - make everyday and how those decisions impact us. Some decisions are clearly more trivial than others, but all make an impact whether big small.
As a mentor text, this book has a great opening line and first paragraph to follow. In one sense, it offers a question that challenges a well-known literary figure and that makes a reader stop and wonder, curious to read on, wondering if the author just might be on to something no one has had the audacity to suggest. Could Shakespeare be wrong? Surely not...but maybe?
More than that though, Gayle Forman suggests her "What if...?" thinking with readers so we can see what she's thinking here. As I write more and more, I notice myself looking at the world around me and wondering "What if...?" all the time. I look at a person, a place, a thing...and I wonder what story belong to that person, place or thing and then I wonder, "What if...?" I write fiction and non-fiction but what I truly love about fiction is that a writer can look at something and imagine a story around it and then have dinner, watch a show or go for a run and then come back and imagine a totally different story around it all over again. It's fun. It's a great feeling of possibility and creativity. I love the opening of this book as a mentor text because it reminds writers to take something solid, well-known, established, and to slither in and find a "What if...?" This would make a great mentor text to use in terms of generating ideas and/or in looking at catchy first lines.
Read Together: Grades 8 - 12
Read Alone: Grades 9 - 12
Read With: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins, 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson, Queen of Babble by Meg Cabot, Dreamland by Sarah Dessen
Snatch of Text:
"What if Shakespeare had it wrong?
To be or not to be: that is the question. That's from Hamlet's - maybe Shakespeare's - most famous soliloquy. I had to memorize the whole speech for sophomore English, and I can still remember every word. I didn't give it much thought back then. I just wanted to get all the words right and collect my A. But what if Shakespeare - and Hamlet - were asking the wrong question? What if the real question is not whether to be, but how to be?"
Writing Prompts: Write about a time in your life when you wondered about life. It might be when you questioned someone or something or when you realized things weren't as you might have thought all along.
Topics Covered: Courage, Friendship, Love, Relationships, Trust, Curiosity, Perseverance, Honesty