Oh, this book gave me the feels.
I didn’t think it would, to be honest. But before I explain, I should probably give you the synopsis…
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.
Um… that’s it for a synopsis?
Well, I guess that’s pretty much it. This is how I would have written it, though:
For her high school graduation, Allyson’s parents give her the gift of a tour of Europe, which will end in England before she is expected to come back home and go to University to become a doctor.
Willem de Ruiter throws a wrench into her plans. After encountering him at a performance of Twelfth Night, they escape to Paris for a day and, after a night together, Allyson awakes to find herself alone in the unfamiliar city.
She goes home, goes to university, but finds herself creeping deeper and deeper into a depression. She misses the person that she was with him and finally decides to go back to Paris where they separated ways and try to uncover what happened between them.
Hm. I don’t know if it’s much better. Anyway, about halfway through this book I was like, “Meh. It’s making me uncomfortable, but it’s okay.” but the second half is what really grabbed my attention and made me recall feelings and get all mushy and tearful.
Allyson’s decisions the whole first half of the book made me uncomfortable. But the thing is, they were uncomfortable for her, too. She decided to go on a whirlwind day trip to Paris with a man she only met the night before, ended up spending the night with him, and she finds herself grappling with the consequences of that decision for the next year as she contemplates what happened.
I have to admit that I really hated Willem as a character. But I completely get it. Willem is a womanizer (well, maybe he isn’t, I haven’t read the sequel, but he is certainly depicted as one) who is continually on the receiving end of attention from girls that he knows, has known, or is interested in meeting, all in the company of Allyson. However, he keeps paying her nice and lovely attention and making her feel like she’s the only girl in the world when he DOES focus his complete attention on her. That’s why she has such a hard time reconciling his disappearance.
I know it. I’ve been through it. Fell head over heels for a guy and ignored his continual flirtation with other girls and his “line-up” of ex-girlfriends and one-night-stands because when he was with me, he made me feel amazing. I finally wised up and couldn’t take it anymore and spent the next year feeling ashamed that someone could take advantage of me and I would let them do it, and wondering why it happened.
That’s exactly what Allyson deals with when she’s away at University. That, and completely missing the person that she was with him: free from the confines of her parents, her friends, and her schooling. When she was with him, nothing was expected of her. She could freely choose what she liked. She could choose what she wanted to do. She could choose her own future.
So, she slowly starts doing that. She begins taking classes she would like to take. She makes new friends. She sets a goal for herself and finds the determination to reach that goal.
She goes on a journey of self-discovery that leads her on her path to finding Willem to confront him about what happened.
So, overall, I was really impressed with this book. It affected me much more than I thought it would.
Gayle Forman’s website can be found here.
Have you read this book? What did you think?
I’m thinking of picking up some of Gayle Forman’s other books. What would you recommend?