First Lines: What if Shakespeare had it wrong? To be or not to be: that is the question. That’s from Hamlet’s–maybe Shakespeare’s–most famous soliloquy. I had to memorize the whole speech for sophomore English, and I can still remember every word. I didn’t give it much thought back then.
I bought this book a while ago, but I never quite got around to reading it. (For whatever reason, having a book on my bookshelf is practically a kiss of death; I never read them.) But in a lull before I got back to the library, I grabbed this to try. It doesn’t hurt that Forman’s newest novel just came out, right?
Allyson Healey’s life has always been organized and planned, just the way she likes it. But in the final days of her post-graduation European tour, she meets an actor named Willem. He’s everything that Allyson’s not, and when he invites her to drop all of her plans and go to Paris with him, she accepts. This surprise trip brings with it risk and romance, independence and intimacy. It’s 24 hours that will change the way Allyson looks at everything…but what happens when those 24 hours are over?
Ok, so initially going into this novel, I thought the whole book was going to take place in 24 hours. Kinda like how Jennifer E. Smith’s The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight takes place in like, 3 days. But it doesn’t. The whole “just one day” thing only covers the first half of the book, if that. The whole second half was uncharted, and it made me feel a little off-balance because I didn’t know what was going to happen in the rest of the novel.
I love the concept of traveling Europe in a story. I always like that, seeing the sights that I may never see in my own life. (I’m not much of a traveler myself, even though I’d love to see some of the world’s famous sights.) There were some really cool sights that Allyson and Willem visited, and some that you’d never really expect.
Oh! And all of the Shakespeare in this story. The English major over here geeked out. Stories with Shakespeare earn major brownie points with me.
As for the characters, I thought they were relatable enough, Allyson more so than Willem (but that’s partly because he’s not in the story much). Allyson is a good girl who doesn’t ever really break the rules for any reason. Once she does, she experiences a whole new world…that suddenly comes crashing down around her just one day later. I think that’s sort of relatable, like when we all have that day, that night, that moment that we don’t ever want to end and everything afterward is colored by it. Allyson didn’t handle it in the best way, but I think she handled it the way most of us would. And I respected her for her choices.
So like I said, Willem isn’t in the story much. And the way Allyson idealizes him makes him feel dreamlike and almost mythical. That was a strange quality for a lead male. But I definitely liked Allyson’s college friend Dee. He completely stole the story, in my opinion.
I really liked the amount of personal growth Allyson had in the story. She took a major setback in her life and turned it into something positive. I thought that was inspiring and fun. And, ok, depending on how you look at it, possibly a little creepy. (She does kind of spend months obsessing over a guy she knew for 24 hours, so…) But she did learn to break out of the role everyone else tried to put her in and became her own person. That was great.
Overall, it was a cute and inspiring story with hints of romance, wit, and adventure. I truly do want to see what Willem’s story brings in the sequel. The first chapter was in the back of my copy and let’s just say that there are a lot of things Allyson doesn’t know.