Mini Reviews | Just One Night & My Heart and Other Black Holes

After spending one life-changing day in Paris with laid-back Dutch actor Willem De Ruiter, sheltered American good girl Allyson “Lulu” Healey discovered her new lover had disappeared without a trace. Just One Day followed Allyson’s quest to reunite with Willem; Just One Year chronicled the pair’s year apart from Willem’s perspective. Now, back together at last, this delectable e-novella reveals the couple’s final chapter.

2 cupcakes

Giving this such a low rating pains me, since I absolutely loved Just One Day (even if I wasn’t overly thrilled by Just One Year). The third-person POV shifts felt super awkward and distancing, Willem’s new-found foot fetish was uncomfortable, and aside from seeing the gang all in one place, this didn’t really add anything to the duology. I guess it’s because I’ve always been more invested in Allyson’s journey of self-discovery than the romantic aspects of the story.

A stunning novel about the transformative power of love, perfect for fans of Jay Asher and Laurie Halse Anderson.

Sixteen-year-old physics nerd Aysel is obsessed with plotting her own death. With a mother who can barely look at her without wincing, classmates who whisper behind her back, and a father whose violent crime rocked her small town, Aysel is ready to turn her potential energy into nothingness.

There’s only one problem: she’s not sure she has the courage to do it alone. But once she discovers a website with a section called Suicide Partners, Aysel’s convinced she’s found her solution–Roman, a teenage boy who’s haunted by a family tragedy, is looking for a partner. Even though Aysel and Roman have nothing in common, they slowly start to fill in each other’s broken lives. But as their suicide pact becomes more concrete, Aysel begins to question whether she really wants to go through with it. Ultimately, she must choose between wanting to die or trying to convince Roman to live so they can discover the potential of their energy together.

3 cupcakes

On one hand, My Heart and Other Black Holes is beautifully written, and describes depression in a manner that I was able to connect with, despite never having struggled with it myself. Unfortunately, the ending (and the romance in general) made me really uncomfortable, as it seemed to romanticize suicide/depression, and sent the message that love is all you need to immediately overcome depression. While that may be a nice thought and may give some people hope, I’m sorry to say that real life doesn’t work like that.

Book Review: My True Love Gave to Me by Stephanie Perkins

If you love holiday stories, holiday movies, made-for-TV-holiday specials, holiday episodes of your favorite sitcoms and, especially, if you love holiday anthologies, you’re going to fall in love with MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME: TWELVE HOLIDAY STORIES by twelve bestselling young adult writers, edited by international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins. Whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah, Winter Solstice or Kwanzaa, there’s something here for everyone. So curl up by the fireplace and get cozy. You have twelve reasons to stay indoors and fall in love.

3.5 cupcakes

My True Love Gave to Me was, for the most part, as adorable as I had expected. Like most anthologies, though, the stories were quite hit or miss for me: there were some that stood out (namely the ones by Rainbow Rowell, Stephanie Perkins, Laini Taylor, and Kiersten White) while others were less convincing and would have worked better as novellas or full-length stories. Despite that, the stories all intrigued me enough to add some previously unknown authors’ works to my ever-growing to read list, and reaffirmed my love for some of my favourite authors.

My True Love Gave to Me features characters from all sorts of backgrounds, ethnicities, religions, and sexual orientations, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that there was a nice mix of contemporary and magical stories in this collection. While the stories were all quite different, they all captured several important aspects of the holiday season, most notably hope and love.

Overall, My True Love Gave to Me is a cute, quick read that captures the magical feeling that surrounds the holidays. I can certainly see myself rereading my favourites closer to the holiday season, and can’t wait to display this gorgeous cover on my bookshelf.

I received a copy of this book from St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: Just One Year by Gayle Forman

When he opens his eyes, Willem doesn’t know where in the world he is—Prague or Dubrovnik or back in Amsterdam. All he knows is that he is once again alone, and that he needs to find a girl named Lulu. They shared one magical day in Paris, and something about that day—that girl—makes Willem wonder if they aren’t fated to be together. He travels all over the world, from Mexico to India, hoping to reconnect with her. But as months go by and Lulu remains elusive, Willem starts to question if the hand of fate is as strong as he’d thought. . . .

The romantic, emotional companion to Just One Day, this is a story of the choices we make and the accidents that happen—and the happiness we can find when the two intersect.

3 cupcakes

“It was like she gave me her whole self, and somehow as a result, I gave her more of myself than I ever realized there was to give. But then she was gone. And only after I’d been filled up by her, by that day, did I understand how empty I really was.”

I’m starting to think that Gayle Forman’s duologies just aren’t for me. I really enjoyed If I Stay but just couldn’t get into Where She Went, and now I find myself disappointed with Just One Yeardespite having loved Just One Day.

Instead of picking up immediately after Just One Day, as I had hoped, Just One Year is the story of what happened to Willem during the year that he and Allyson were apart. I appreciated the fact that Willem’s backstory was elaborated upon, but the plot’s slow pace failed to keep my interest – to the point where I could easily walk away from the book for days on end and not be plagued with curiosity over what happens next.

For the majority of the book, I was not a fan of Willem. Instead of the charismatic, flirty actor/experienced traveler that we saw glimpses of in Just One Day, Willem was not the mysterious, strong, caring individual that I expected; instead, he’s the kind of man who runs away from all of his problems. I liked that he was willing to make an effort to find Allyson, but the extent of his fixation over her (constant comments about how he can’t forget about her and how much he likes her) wasn’t very convincing or believable.

Just One Year‘s saving grace is Gayle Forman’s beautiful writing. The pages of my ARC are filled with sticky notes lining all of her beautiful and deep quotes that burrowed their way into my mind and my heart.

Overall, Just One Year didn’t add anything to Allyson’s story and, as a result, it failed to live up to my expectations.

I received an ARC from Razorbill Canada in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: Just One Day by Gayle Forman

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.

My Rating: 4 cupcakes

“We are born in one day. We die in one day. We can change in one day. And we can fall in love in one day. Anything can happen in just one day.”

I went into Just One Day expecting an adorable, fluffy romance for the majority of the book, culminating in a heartbreaking ending. And while elements of that expectation held true, I was pleasantly surprised by how much more there was to the story.

The romance between Allyson and Willem was sweet but short-lived. I don’t exactly believe in love at first sight, so it was initially difficult for me to believe the depth of the feelings that Allyson had for Willem – especially after knowing him for just one day. As the story progressed, however, Allyson and I both came to realize that her search for Willem was less about him and more about the person that he brought out in her.

At its core, Just One Day is about a journey to self-identity and independence. As an only child, Alyson has grown up following her controlling parent’s expectations and plans for her. An impromptu trip to Paris with Willem causes her to reinvent herself as “Lulu,” a girl who is less reserved and more adventurous, and who makes going back to being just Allyson incredibly difficult.

What I loved the most about Just One Day is that it takes a while for Allyson to find herself. We see a former honours student struggling in her post-secondary courses, a girl whose dreams don’t line up with her parents’ anymore, and someone who is losing touch with old friends while also struggling to make new ones. This experience captures the transition from high school to college perfectly: the friends that you make and the experiences that you have in these years help shape the person you are and the person you are to become.

Overall, Just One Day was a beautiful journey of self-discovery that made me want to travel to Paris with a copy of Just One Year as soon as I finished.