This is a beautiful, beautiful story. It so deftly captures that time of metamorphosis between your teen years and adulthood, the way your identity evolves in the span of a year, a month, or just one day. Every page of this book is filled with bittersweet yearning, vivid characters, and descriptions you want to crawl into and live inside.
Allyson Healey takes a trip to Europe before college, a prepackaged “experience” where her every waking moment is scheduled, itemized, and verified as educational. But she goes rogue in England and sneaks away to a street performance of Shakespeare. She encounters the tall, blond, and handsome Dutch actor Willem–and then, daringly, runs away with him to Paris.
On the train to Paris, Allyson’s past identity feels as itchy and confining as a too-small wool sweater. So she tosses it aside and becomes a girl befitting Willem’s name for her–Lulu, the kind of girl who explores unknown streets, lingers in cafes, and banters with strangers who feel like long-lost friends. As Lulu, she feels free to let each moment flow from the last, and feels herself falling in love with Paris, with travel, with Willem.
But they have just one day together. Just one day, and then she loses him.
She loses Lulu, too, becoming an Allyson who doesn’t remember how to fit into the cramped spaces of her former life. Should she find or forget Willem? Her decisions will forever change the way she finds herself.
I’m so glad I picked up this ARC at the PNBA tradeshow, with the one downside that I will have to wait even longer to read the forthcoming companion novel, Just One Year, written from Willem’s POV. In the meantime, I’m tempted to read Just One Day cover to cover again. Highly recommended.