Jay Asher’s novel Thirteen Reasons Why was a pivotal story for our family that helped one of my daughters get through a very difficult time. I continue to recommend it to teachers and parents alike when the issue of bullying comes up. I purchased this newest book for my girls as a Christmas gift and stole it from the bookshelf as soon as one of them was done reading it.
The Future of Us is a double narrative set in the mid 1990s as the Internet was just coming into being and things like Facebook were far in the future… or at least they were supposed to be. The two main characters, Emma and Josh, are neighbours and childhood friends who have had a falling out… until the free AOL disk installed on Emma’s new computer accidentally gives her access to their Facebook profiles 15 years in the future.
The premise of this story was intriguing and the two points of view, set over a week in the characters lives, created two very different points of view and sense of voice. I found myself wondering if they had started this collaboration as a variation of the old “letters” exercise between authors where each one has a chance to alter the story slightly as they send their pieces back and forth to each other. Midway through the book, I found myself disliking the female character so much that I actually took a break for a few hours. I’m not sure if Asher’s character Josh is just more likable than Emma or whether his writing and slightly more descriptive style is just stronger. My daughter, who’d had a similar reaction when reading the story, urged me to soldier on and I am glad that I picked the book up again. It had a very nice message in the end and an ending which allows a reader to imagine their own possibilities. As someone well beyond the angst-ridden teenage years, I felt sorry for Emma’s desperate search for the “perfect future”. Instead of looking for that one Happily Ever After, maybe we need to remind others that every day of our lives is a chance to make changes, grow and reach for dreams. There is never just one perfect path to find, but a wealth of possibilities too infinite to imagine.
Hardcover format, 356 pages, published in 2011 by Razorbill, an imprint of Penguin Group