The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler
New York, NY: Razorbill, 2011
4 out of 5
It's 1996, and Josh and Emma have been neighbors their whole lives. They've been best friends almost as long -- at least, up until last November, when Josh did something that changed everything. Things have been weird between them ever since, but when Josh's family gets a free AOL CD in the mail, his mom makes him bring it over so that Emma can install it on her new computer. When they sign on, they're automatically logged onto their Facebook pages. But Facebook hasn't been invented yet. And they're look themselves fifteen years in the future.
By refreshing their pages, they learn that making different decisions now will affect the outcome of their lives later. And as they grapple with the ups and downs of what they're doing right -- and wrong -- in the present.
I have to partly blame nostalgia for how I feel about this book. As the description says, this book is set in 1996 when households with the internet were much fewer than they are today. In 1996, my grandparents house was one of those homes and it was with the help of free AOL hours and Yahoo Messenger that I kept in touch with my friends and how I learned to type very quickly. As soon as I finished this book, I couldn't stop gushing about how nostalgic is made me. Though it also shows me how much has really changed. Email was the thing when I was in middle and high school. Now it's text messages because most people have a cell phone.
Fortunately, I like this book for more than the trip down memory lane. It gives an interesting perspective on this thing most people have and feel the need to check frequently--Facebook. Early in the book Emma and Josh are reading whiny posts about life and what they made for dinner. Their response: "Um, why are people posting this one the internet?" This is often a question I wonder, yet am guilty of as well.
Because this book is set in '96, it's very low-tech by today's standards. The whole premise is that Emma getting her first desktop computer and happens upon this wacky site called Facebook that shows her the future. Also, only one person has a cell phone, and she happens to be the most popular girl in school.
Personally, I enjoyed this novel quite a bit. It's well written and covers many of the problems faced in high school. Intermixed with the technology aspect are elements of romance, friendship, family, and all that other stuff to deal with in high school and life in general.
Full disclosure: I borrowed this title from my local library.