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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.
Just One Year was on my pre-ordered list from the moment it was possible to add it there, and when I (finally) received it last week, I was so happy! I’ve been looking forward to Willem’s story for all this time, because that one special day he spent in Paris with Lulu, and then his disappearance was so well done. And then, to see how Allyson aka Lulu kept trying to find him, while having no idea where to start made me even more curious as to how Willem lived with this separation after having Just One Day together.
My curiosity was quickly quenched as I kept reading this whole year from Willem’s point of view. Just One Year shows how lost Willem is when he goes back to Holland after his impromptu trip to Paris with Lulu, and I wish I could just give him a big hug and tell him to keep fighting, that things will be OK. There is so much more to him than what was hinted at in Just One Day, and getting to know him better was a real treat for me. I especially enjoyed learning the reason behind his traveling, and the fact that he only has a small back-pack with his things in. His complicated relationship with his mother is one of the things I enjoyed reading about as well.
What Just One Year showed the best, though, is that two people can meet and spend a single day together, but that this can actually change them completely. Willem’s view of the world, how he treats girls, how he thinks about his future, everything needed to be questioned after that one day with Lulu. And it was truly awesome to see that Willem couldn’t forget about her, just like she kept thinking about him. The extremes he went to in order to find her were both heartbreaking and awesome at the same time, and I loved seeing how much his friends were willing to do to help him out – everybody should have friends like Willem’s.
I used romance as one of the genres for Just One Year, because in a big way, I think it is. However, the story really is about Willem, and his whole year after that one day with Lulu. And the story shows how much Willem matures, how he starts to ask himself questions about his future – and his past. How he needs to continue to travel, while realizing that he is actually running away from his own life by doing so. What I find so romantic is that Willem keeps thinking of Lulu, wondering about the way she could actually see him. Especially the story of the double happiness comes up several times, and each time Willem draws strength from that story, and from Lulu as well, even if they are worlds apart and don’t really know each other.
To sum it up, Just One Year truly is the companion story of Just One Day, as it shows the mirror – we get to see how Willem continues on after letting his life be distracted by the mysterious Lulu. It is not a big love story, as Lulu is absent for almost the whole story – apart from in Willem’s thoughts, where she is practically omnipresent. I really hope there will be a third book in this series, though, because I felt that the very ending was a big tease, and I was a little surprised it was over at that moment. At the same time, it is a logical ending, and it continues to show the readers that we should all dare to be inspired by someone we only meet of a short time.
But Wrong Lulu is right. Accident – how I found her. Accident – how I lost her. You have to give the universe credit, the way it evens things out like that.
She could be warm like that. But it came and went with as much regularity as the Dutch sun. Except with Bram. But maybe it was reflected warmth – he was her sun, after all.
After he died, I expected Yael to fall apart. Only this time, I would be there. I would put aside my own grief and I would help her. Finally, instead of me being an interloper into her great love affair, I would be the product of it. I would be a comfort to her. What she wasn’t as a mother, I would be as a son.