Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Status: First in dualology
Publication Date: 2013
Page Count: 369
Also by Gayle Forman:
If I Stay
Allyson has always followed all the rules; she never lets anyone down; and she goes anywhere without a plan. While on a teen tour of Europe, she meets a boy that makes her take a chance. They spend one day in Paris together, and Allyson and her view of the world are never the same.
Before reading this book, I had heard a lot about it. Lots of people used huge and heavy words such as "life-changing" to describe this book. Well, I'm here to say that everything you have heard about this book is true. It is beautiful, emotional, and even a little bit life-changing.
While there is a romance in this novel, and the romance is the spark of Allyson's journey of self-discovery, this book is so much more than the romance. This book is powerful.
I related to Allyson so much that it made me a little bit emotional. After returning from her one day in Paris, Allyson finds herself at college and on a path that her parents have picked out for her. She's not happy with herself, or her life. My emotion and frustration built up right alongside of Allyson's emotion and frustration because I recognized how she felt. Last semester of school was very rough for me. I was taking a lot of classes because my degree requires more classes than the average bachelor's Degree. I had no time for myself, and when I did, I didn't have the energy to do anything I would usually enjoy doing. I was stressed and discouraged about up-coming tests and other events needed to get my degree, and I was just tired of it all. Last semester really dampened my passion and my confidence that I was in the right program. I was frustrated that all of these requirements and hoops I have to jump through were dwindling my excitement, enthusiasm, and passion for my future career before I even had the chance to enter the field. Early this summer (and maybe even to this day still) I was really considering a major change out of fear that all of the schooling ahead of me would kill any passion for teaching that I had left in me.
I related to Allyson's desire to see the world, explore new things, break away from her parents, and break out of other people's expectations. I related to how she felt out-of-place with her friends and her life, and I knew that the pinnacle moment of emotion for her would be hard for me too. I was rooting for Allyson and so proud of her when she began to come into her own. I have not related to a character as much as I have related to Allyson in quite a long time. Her struggle was real, it was important, and it's something that I am still dealing with.
In addition to all the emotion packed in this story, it also explores one of the greatest elements of the universe, which is also one of my favorite elements to ponder over: fate. I am fascinated by the idea of fate and the human tendency to love and this novel explored both of those ideas beautifully. This is one of those stories that (even though it is fictional) leaves you a little in awe of the universe and its workings. Everything comes together beautifully and naturally in this novel. I loved the Shakespeare connections that Forman worked into the novel, and how this novel's themes overlapped with the common themes of Shakespeare's plays. If you are familiar with his plays, you know that many of them deal with the idea of identity, appearance vs. reality, and fate, just as this novel did.
This novel reminded me that I'm not alone in feeling out-of-place every once in a while. It reminded me not to settle, and it reminded me to be a little impractical and spontaneous every once and a while, because who knows where it could lead? This novel will stay with me for quite a long time, it has left me feeling inspired, connected, and hopeful.