AUTHOR: Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler
PUBLICATION DATE: November 21, 2011
SOURCE: public library
GENRE: Realistic fiction
GIVE IT TO: MS, HS
SUMMARY: It’s 1996, and high school junior Emma Nelson has just opened up her family’s very first personal computer. At his parents’ request, Emma’s former best friend and next-door neighbor Josh brings over a CD with 100 free minutes from America Online. As Emma sets up her new email account, a strange website pops up: something called “Facebook.” Emma and Josh soon discover that the site enables them to glimpse their lives 15 years into the future.
REVIEW: Combine the movies 13 Going On 30 and The Butterfly Effect with Lauren Oliver’s novel Before I Fall, and you’ll likely get something like The Future of Us. This sweet romance about two feuding best friends will cause readers to consider how every little decision–even something as benign as what to eat for dinner–can alter the future. Through Josh and Emma’s alternating perspectives, readers learn about the futures of their families, high school friends, and classmates. Multiple references from 90s pop culture, news events, and technology are fun but a little heavy-handed. Teen readers may not get every 90s reference or sarcastic jab, but adults will chuckle as they reminisce about a time before every home had an internet connection and every teenager a cell phone.
While it does grapple with meaty issues including teen pregnancy, homosexuality, and stepfamilies, the story’s plot stays fairly light-hearted and grounded in Josh and Emma’s fragile friendship. Characters are varied and realistic; skater Josh, track star Emma, brainy Kellan, immature Tyson, and popular Sydney will give many teens someone they can relate to.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Although the plot slows a bit in places, The Future of Us has a fun premise that will be a hit with middle and high school students AND their parents nostalgic for “the good ole days.”
STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: On order. This one will be popular in my middle school library, but there is one scene I worry a little about with my sixth graders (Emma’s boyfriend pushes her sexually and puts his hand inside her shirt and underneath her bra). The scene is necessary to the story, and it is not overly graphic or descriptive.
READALIKES: Before I Fall (Lauren Oliver)
- Overall: 4/5
- Creativity: 4/5
- Characters: 3/5
- Engrossing: 4/5
- Writing: 4/5
- Appeal to teens: 5/5
- Appropriate length to tell the story: 5/5
- Language: mild
- Sexuality: medium; a boy puts his hand under Emma’s bra, a couple of roundabout references to male erection, kissing, one boy attempts to seduce Emma but fails, one potential teen pregnancy; one homosexual character
- Violence: none
- Drugs/Alcohol: mild; teens drink at a party, but neither Emma nor Josh drinks