Author: Gayle Forman
Release date: January 8, 2013
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Genre: YA, Romance, Coming of Age
Buy on: Amazon | Book Depository | B&N
When sheltered American good girl Allyson "LuLu" Healey first meets laid-back Dutch actor Willem De Ruiter at an underground performance of Twelfth Night in England, there’s an undeniable spark. After just one day together, that spark bursts into a flame, or so it seems to Allyson, until the following morning, when she wakes up after a whirlwind day in Paris to discover that Willem has left. Over the next year, Allyson embarks on a journey to come to terms with the narrow confines of her life, and through Shakespeare, travel, and a quest for her almost-true-love, to break free of those confines.
Before I start reviewing, there are a couple of things that I would like to let you know (which will cause this review to be highly unprofessional and slightly biased).
If I Stay and Where She Went by Gayle Forman are two of my favorite books. I was really looking forward to reading this one and part of the reason why I am reading this so late, was because I was afraid it was going to let me down.
I am Dutch, thus loving all the Dutch stuff in this book (which will all be further explained in this review).
After reading I can conclude I am totally in love with this book too (even after waiting a day too write my review, I am still too excited to write something considered professional).
The book starts with Allyson and Melanie, two friends on a trip through Europe with a traveling group. The are in England on their last stop and that is where Allyson meets Willem (I am sorry, but how a cliché Dutch name!). He is part of a Shakespeare performance group (and Shakespeare will play a big role throughout the book) and pretty much from then on she knows he's the one. Later when Allyson and Melanie are on the train to London, Allyson runs into no one other than Willem! There he find she looks like Louise Brooks and thus calls her LuLu. He invites her to go to Paris with him and that is really the start of their short romance (very short, it is only one day).
Allyson is quite a stiff person. She doesn't go out on adventures (which makes it pretty much a miracle she went away with Willem), doesn't really take chances and just does what her parents tell her to do. After he trip to Paris she starts to change a bit. It takes a while, but she starts to do more things she wants to do and things against her parents wishes.
Throughout the book, Allyson and Melanie grow apart. Especially since Allyson has changed after meeting Willem for such a short time and then never getting the change to talk to him again. They go to different colleges and Allyson starts to realize that they are quite different. After almost year, they don't talk anymore and she only finds out things about her friend through her father. And can I just add that I think Melanie is quite an awful friend. She mostly just thinks about herself and doesn't care what Allyson wants. They just do whatever Melanie wants to do.
And then we have Willem de Ruiter (ahhh the clichés). He isn't presence throughout the whole book, which I think is one of the downsides, since he is one of the main characters, but somewhere I do understand it. I just wish I had been able to see more of him throughout the book. Willem is a guy who has been a free man for quite a while. He travels around Europe and tells Allyson he hasn't been home to the Netherlands in quite a while and was actually meant to go home the day they met on the train to London. Willem has all these great Dutch things he says and I kind of laughed at the mentioning of hagelslag (which because of the book I think about is indeed a bit like dessert for breakfast. Just google it!). He suddenly leaves when they are in France and you get the feeling (because of Allyson) he is kind of a d***.
But here is the thing I thought about during part two of the book, which is about Allyson's time in college: You only get things from one perspective! Allyson keeps wanting to tell you how miserable she is because of Willem, but I keep thinking that there has to be more to it. You don't get his story. Which is why I now NEED to read the second book, before I loose my mind (also, because the books end in this annoying cliffhanger, so make sure you already have the second book so you can continue on with the story).
So yes, great great book which makes me feel a lot of things and expect to have the review of Just One Year up soon.