The phrase: “love knows no language or bounds” is a simplified explanation of what happens in ‘Just One Day.’ The book tells the story of Allyson, a young girl whose singular decision to go to an unknown land with a stranger completely changes her life.
‘Spoiler-Free’ Summary of Just One Day
The novel starts with the main characters Allyson and her best friend, Melanie. With her just finishing high school, Allyson gets a gift of a tour around Europe from her parents. Though the trip underwhelms her, Allyson tries her best to enjoy it. On the last day of their journey, Allyson meets Willem and gets invited to watch a Shakespeare play. Initially not wanting to go, Allyson eventually succumbs to Melanie’s pleas and follows her to watch the show.
The next day, Allyson and Melanie say goodbye to the rest of the tour group and catch a train to London. On the train, Allyson bumps into Willem, and they talk. With Willem calling her Lulu, Allyson soon finds herself laughing and enjoying Willem’s company. Willem tells Allyson he was from the Netherlands and was traveling around Europe. Melanie wakes up, and after discussing with Willem, both she and Allyson tells him about their inability to visit Paris. Willem then offers to pay for Allyson’s trip to Paris, and she agrees to go with him.
On getting to Paris, Willem and Allyson begin a journey of exploration and fun as they get to meet new people and thread unknown places rarely visited by tourists. However, after encountering some dangerous men, Willem talks to Allyson about ending their adventure. Allyson gets mad at Willem for trying to protect her but a night of romance and desire leads her to fall for him deeper. Soon, morning reaches, and to her surprise, Willem had disappeared.
Allyson then returns home to attend college. Now in college, Allyson finds it hard to focus as the pain from Willem’s abandonment still hurts her. In one last step to gain closure, Allyson begins another journey searching for Willem. She eventually finds his home in the Netherlands and tells him her real name.
Plot Summary of Just One Day
Spoiler alert: important details of the novel are revealed below.
After completing her high school education, Allyson gets the gift of touring around Europe with the Teen Tours program. On reaching Europe, Allyson finds herself getting bored of everything. She gives up and coaxes her best friend, Melanie, to stay with her at the hotel at night. With her and Melanie making a promise to take life after high school seriously, Allyson gives herself a makeover, cutting her hair short. Melanie does the same, going for the edgy style.
On the last day of the tour, Allyson gets invited by Willem, a stranger, to watch Twelve Nights, a play written by Shakespeare. Though having doubts about going out, Allyson and Melanie eventually sneak out to watch the show. The next day, she and Melanie take a train back to London to travel to stay with Melanie’s extended family. On the train, Melanie sleeps off, and Allyson meets Willem again. After teasing her about her breakfast, she and Willem become better acquainted. He reveals to her that he was from the Netherlands and was traveling around Europe as an actor. He nicknames her, and though she hated nicknames, she agrees to be called Lulu.
Melanie wakes up and meets Allyson together with Willem. They tell him of their initial plans to visit Paris but their inability to do so because of a strike. Willem offers to pay for a trip to Paris, and Allyson accepts his offer. While on the train, Allyson begins to freak out after Willem does not return from going to get them something to eat.
They arrive in Paris, and Willem offers to drop off Allyson’s bags at a friend’s place. He takes her to Celine, who helps them with their luggage. They find themselves on a boat with captain Jack and his friends. Willem takes Allyson on a bicycle ride through the Seine, and she marvels at the beauty of Paris. He tells her how he gets himself intentionally lost to have more fun, and they decide to get lost together. They end up in an unknown area and have a lot of fun. Willem offers to hold Allyson’s watch, freeing her of the burden of time.
However, the screaming of some girls getting harassed by some bald men makes Willem dash to their rescue. Allyson, thinking Willem is in danger, rushes in to help him. They run away, and in the process of escaping, Allyson gets injured by a shard of glass. Willem tells her they should end their adventure, making her sad. However, they decide to find a place for the night and end up in an artist workshop, where she sleeps with him. Allyson wakes up the next day to discover Willem left.
Allyson returns home and goes to college but changes for the worse as she finds herself struggling to concentrate in her classes. Allyson meets Kali, who is her roommate. She also befriends Jenny and Kendra, Kali’s friends. After a terrible semester, Allyson changes her courses and switches to a Shakespeare class, where she meets Dee; they become reading partners. Though she and Melanie were in touch till the new year, Allyson distances herself from her best friend. She decides to go back to Europe on the advice of her friends in search of Willem.
After following clues, Allyson attends a show where Willem stars as the protagonist. She then traces him back to his home in the Netherlands and on reaching, knocks on his door. Willem opens up, and Allyson finally tells him her name.
What genre of book is Just One Day?
‘Just One Day’ is a young adult fiction book that tells the story of the love, adventure, pain, and struggles of Allyson, an 18-year-old girl, after she meets Willem.
Is Just One Day a movie?
No, ‘Just One Day’ is a 2013 young adult novel written by Gayle Forman, best known for ‘If I Stay.’
How many pages does Just One Day have?
‘Just One Day’ has 416 pages, and the book has two sections. The first section features Allyson meeting Willem, and the second section shows Allyson’s struggles with pain and heartbreak.
Did Just One Day win any awards?
Though the novel was rated high among critics, it did not win an award.