Thursday, October 20, 2011
seeing the future while living in the present
Imagine that you are living a typical teen's life in the latter half of the 1990s. Your absent father who is living with his new family has sent you a computer (maybe to ease his guilt?) and your neighbor offers you an AOL CD so you can get online. That is the scenario as THE FUTURE OF US by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler (Razorbill 2011) opens. Emma and Josh have been neighbors and friends for a long time. Their relationship has been strained lately, but Josh and Emma are hoping to make he friendship work. Emma inserts AOL and sets up her online account. A strange site pops up under her favorite sites, something called Facebook. At first, Emma and Josh think someone is pulling a prank, showing them scenes from their future with status updates, friends lists, and photos. But what is it is real? What if somehow Emma and Josh can see their future? Can they change it? What "ripples" will that cause? <526>
Asher and Mackler begin with this rather improbable scenario. However, because Emma and Josh and their friends and parents seem so real, it seems plausible. Older readers will chuckle ruefully at the reactions of Emma and Josh to something quite foreign to them but something quite real in the lives of contemporary teens. How did we ever get along before Facebook? How do our actions today dictate our future possibilities? Are relationships made more difficult with online networks? These are just some of the questions this novel tackles. Most importantly, though, is the question at the very heart of the book: what will make us truly happy? What role do we play in our own happiness? While countless books tackle a dystopic future, Asher and Mackler instead turn to the past for answers about our future.