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.
Allyson Healey has been sheltered all her life. When her parents send her for a conducted tour of Europe, she had no choice. Her only consolation is that her best friend would be going on the trip too. As the trip comes to close, Allyson’s first impulsive decision results in her meeting a cute Dutch boy called Willem. With another on the spot decision, Allyson finds herself in Paris in the company of Willem. But they have only one day before Allyson has to return home. Intending to make full of this opportunity, Willem and Allyson traipse through the city while sparks fly between them. But when Willem disappears after a night of passion, Allyson returns with a broken heart. Once college starts, Allyson lacks the enthusiasm for anything at all until she finds friends in the most unexpected places. Backed by her friends, she embarks on a journey that leads to certain realizations.
The plot seems to be simple enough at a glance, but I can tell you it is not so. While it’s a boy meets girl, then they are apart and then they find each other again sort of a plot, there are other aspects about it too. While on her journey to look for Willem, Allyson actually discovers her true self and that was the most satisfying aspect of the book. The bonds of friendships that Allyson forms over the year are really encouraging and show that there are nice people all around us who are willing to help us.
Allyson, at the beginning of the novel came across this ‘good girl’ who always did the right things and not much of spontaneous person. But then as ‘Lulu’ she lets go of her inhibitions and tries things spontaneously. Then again we see a heart broken side of her. But what I loved most about her was the stubborn and ‘won’t give up easily attitude’ that she later takes on. I liked Willem too. He is a free spirit! But I can’t help but wonder what secrets does he keep? I must say, I didn’t care for Allyson’s mother that much. She came across this overbearing lady, who always knows what’s best for her daughter and not realizing that while she is trying to live her own dreams through her daughter, she was actually kind of suffocating her child.
I loved reading Allyson’s journey, even though her doubts and insecurities about herself often made me want to whack her, she ultimately picks herself up and make a stand for what she wants. I admire her for it. My only problem (if I can call it that) was that I wished that the pace of the novel would be a bit faster. Other than that, Gayle Forman’s language and style of character development is simply marvelous. A must Read!
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