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.
I know I know, after reading that synopsis you're like.."WHY? WHY did you bother taking your time to read that?" I promise you, I had no legitimate reasons. I kept hearing all these fabulous reviews of it online, and how the ending was such a shocker (uh NOT), and how it was an interesting tale of a young woman dealing with a lot her first year of college. Yes, that last one was totally true, and in all honesty I don't think it was terrible. I did enjoy it. I thought it was a really interesting, and believable plot. That whole "believable" thing is new to me, since I read a lot of dystopian literature and many of the things that happen in those books are still just a little out of reach. So to read about real life situations was good for me, and I think this was a good read. It was quick, easy, and enjoyable. Non-trashy (yes, I do sometimes judge people who read 50 Shades of Grey...sorry, I just don't get it. Touching it makes me feel sick) and interesting.
Basically this girl, Allyson, takes a surprise tour of Europe for a graduation present (ok, who gets a trip to Europe? I definitely did not get that) and runs into this really interesting character Willem. He performs Shakespeare in the park, and she runs into him again on her way to London towards the end of her trip. She decides on a whim (as LuLu, which was a little weird, and you would have to read that to understand because I am not going to give all of it away) to take a trip with him to Paris for just one day (ehhh, ehhh...see what I did there?). They spend their day running around Paris, and not doing all the tourist-y stuff, which I think is awesome. I think they try to live as if they were from Paris for a day, and it is all in the moment. Of course, she wakes up and he's gone (SHOCK! right? You definitely did not see that coming). This girl is crushed by his disappearance. She is a goody-goody, so naturally she gets crushed when she decides to be spontaneous and is therefore crushed and because an angry, depressed, emotional teenager. She makes really bad life decisions with friends and family and basically becomes a hermit at her first semester of college. She struggled a lot, but she comes out of it in the most unexpected way (ok, maybe a little expected, but to the character it was unexpected). She finds her way as she is taking her Shakespeare class, because she thought she could never do the whole Shakespeare thing again. Basically gathering courage to find and maybe (if she's lucky enough) face him again and tell him what's what.
After reading that you are probably wondering why in the world I read this book. Honestly, as I was typing that up I was feeling the ridiculousness from the synopsis and wondering that myself. In all honesty, I got into this book knowing that it was about a young woman trying to find herself. I had heard that it was really well written, and that it was something all young women should read (that, of course, is up for debate. Yes, it was worth the read, but I really don't think you should be forced to read it in order to understand life). I kind of didn't really understand the entire plot, and I really got drawn into it. The character, Allyson, is fairly relateable She is insecure, as we all are at times, and she is shot down, as we all have been at one point and time. She deals with losing friends because of her life decisions, which I am sure is something that happens to everyone, and she deals with the stresses of starting college and trying to start over. Willem is glorified a bit, so I kinda wondered if he was actually real, but he was and apparently all things Willem will be addressed in the sequel. Her friend Melanie is that friend you had in high school. The one you thought you would always be close to, but then you slowly drift apart. We all know that happens. There are a lot of real issues going on in this book, and I almost feel like there is something that everyone can relate to. I love that about a book, when it can reach to the reader even if the reader is nothing like the main character.
I do, however, have a few issues with this book. I just think it's ridiculous that she spent an entire year trying to get over one day. She knew the guy for 24 hours, and yet you spend the entire book listening to her whine about all sorts of things and it always goes back to him. I realize that the author probably used this as a point where she realizes that she is an adult and that things aren't always perfect. It was kind of used as the tipping point for her downward spiral. Second, how is she so rude to her family? I know my family and I aren't always getting along perfectly, but did she really think that if she said nothing that there would be no possible way for things to get worked out. Her mother is a bit controlling and wants her daughter to accomplish what she didn't. I understand that sometimes that feeling comes to parents, from what I've heard, but I also know that compromise is possible. Third, did she really expect to be friends with Melanie if she continued to blow her off and not ever try to talk to her. I've had friends that have blown me off so many times that it seemed impossible to want to be friends with them. I guess as an reader that has been through the age that the main character has I see things just a little differently.
The best part of this entire book, however, was that the main character was not a snot. Lately it seems that all books featuring females of that age that I have read have been filled with characters that think they are better than everyone else or too cool for this or that. It's not fun to read about someone like that. Makes the rest of us feel stupid.
This book was enjoyable. Easy to read, easy to follow, easy to relate to. Worth the read.