Willem and Lulu/Allyson’s romantic day ended semi-tragically with Lulu/Allyson waking up alone after spending the night with Willem. She figures he simply left her and understandably she is quite upset about it. Lulu/Allyson’s time with Willem impacts more than Allyson’s romantic outlook. It compels her to reevaluate her entire life, which up until her impromptu decision to follow Willem, had been largely planned out by her mother. Semi-spoiler alert, Willem didn’t just walk out on Lulu/Allyson. He left to get breakfast for the two of them and was attacked while running his errand. Like Lulu/Allyson, Willem wakes up alone only he wakes up in a hospital.
During their magical day together, Willem and Lulu/Allyson hadn’t yet gotten around to exchanging contact information. Worse, Willem doesn’t know Lulu’s actual name. I forget why exactly but the two of them had this thing where Allyson went by the name of Lulu in reference to a movie starlet from decades earlier. Just One Day ends with Allyson going back to Europe a year later to find closure. It isn’t until then that Allyson learns that Willem was attacked and did not simply walk out on her. Here, in Just One Year, we find out what happened to Willem during the year after the life-changing day he spent with Lulu/Allyson.
I loved this! I really liked Just One Day, but this might be better. Just One Day is mostly a young adult romance. Just One Year may begin and end with a love story but in between it is so much more than that. As with Allyson, their one day in Paris prompts Willem to reevaluate his life. He has much to think about, between mourning the loss of a family and trying to figure out where to go next and what to do once he gets there.
My only complaint is the ending. It ends just as Just One Day did, too abruptly. I wanted more of their reunion. It didn't necessarily have to be a perfectly happy ending, but some hint of where they were going from there.