Every once in a while, an author pings on my radar. Maybe I stumbled on her leafing through the Scholastic book order form. Maybe I yanked her book off the new releases shelf at the local library. Maybe she was an amazon.com recommendation based on previous purchases. I don’t exactly remember how Gayle Forman did it, but she’s definitely earning her stripes as part of my repertoire of writers who I
whore out highly recommend to anyone who asks, regardless of their reading preferences.
It’s very difficult to get on my short list only because I read A LOT and quite quickly. It’s not unusual for me to consume a book a day when I’m on a roll or when I have books to return to the library. Because of this, I may enjoy a book as I read it but I can just as easily forget it as I crack open the next.
I also tend to choose books based on my inclinations as a failed writer. Since I’m a masochist, I read a lot of the genre I like to write in (coming of age YA and/or fantasy) and for me, there’s a fine line between hating an author because I’m jealous – ahem! sparkly vampires! – and adoring an author because s/he’s done something with the genre that moves me and enlarges me from having read their work.
Gayle Forman falls in the latter category. And she is brilliant.
There’s something elegant and yet real about her prose. She doesn’t mince words and yet she builds elegies in my mind. She writes in the first person present tense effortlessly, as if she speaks that way herself and not because that’s the trendy thing to do in YA novels. Her characters are heartbreaking and authentic and likeable. She doesn’t have to put them in gratuitously compromising situations because what happens to them happens to all of us, making her works universal and thus timeless. I’m probably not doing her justice with my clunky words, so just take my advice and run to your local library/bookstore/Kindle app and grab her first two books. Pronto!
Now there’s another reason to explain my fangirl-ing over Ms. Forman – two. Two books. As in, no more than necessary. As in, knowing when to leave well enough alone. As in, maintaining both your integrity as a writer and that of your characters by not milking the cash cow. How amazing is this woman?! (I even dig the layout of her website; I kinda got lost in it while doing research for this post, only to emerge admiring her even more.)
Anyhow, the subject of this post was Just One Day, which is Ms. Forman’s newest work. It follows the same conceit as the first duology, starting with the female perspective of the story then continuing with the male’s perspective in the second book. I’m not going to review it here because 84 amazon reviewers have already done an expert job at that. I just want to say that this was the book that got me out of my blogging frenzy, if only for a day (how analogous is that?), but now I’m regretting speeding through it because I have to wait till October to read the follow up.
So until October, Ms. Forman, when I can resume my sturm und drang with Willem and Ally, I want to say thank you for restoring my love for books, for making me use SSR time for reading instead of updating my blog, for gifting me with characters that haunt me even after I turned the last page, for resurrecting my memories of Europe and encouraging me to vow to return, and for inadvertently encouraging me to keep believing that someday I will grow up to be just like you and write a moving novel of my own.