What were you doing in 1996? I was a junior in high school. I had a few close friends, I was active in band, I was a nerd that got picked on a lot, and I was looking forward to getting out of my small town. Oh, how things have (not) changed in fifteen years. I finished reading a book yesterday that really made me revisit that time in my life and wonder if I would change anything. If I could have seen who I would become, would I make changes that would impact my future? (Yes, I probably would have.) The book I’m talking about is The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler. Told from two different viewpoints, this story takes us back to 1996. Emma, a junior in high school (!!!!), just got her very first computer, and her neighbor–and former best friend–Josh brings over a free AOL CD-ROM. They log on to the Internet for the first time, and they are met with something truly shocking…
When Emma gets her computer and Josh brings over the America Online CD-ROM, she’s excited about finally being able to email and instant message her friends. What neither of them are prepared for, however, is the website that appears on the screen. It’s Facebook…which will not be launched until 2004. Emma and Josh are viewing their Facebook pages from the year 2012, including their jobs, spouses, etc. What is this site? And why do so many people feel the need to tell everyone about the most mundane aspects of their lives?
At first, Emma and Josh think the site is a joke. After all, it’s impossible to see fifteen years into the future, right? Right?? It soon becomes crystal clear, though, that the site is real. Emma and Josh are glimpsing into their futures…and all is not as they thought it would be.
Emma is distraught over the information on her Facebook page. In the future, she’s apparently in a horrible marriage, unemployed, and very unhappy. Josh, however, is pretty stoked about his future. He’s married to the most popular girl in school, lives in a big house, has a great job, and is a father. But here’s the problem with knowing your future…anything you do in the present ripples and has the potential to change the future. And Emma and Josh figure this out each time they refresh their Facebook pages. Sometimes things are just a little different, but sometimes the changes are huge, like living in a different city, marriage to a different person, or different kids.
Emma is so unhappy with her future life that she becomes determined to change what’s in store for her. But how will that impact Josh’s future or even their friendship in the present? What will Josh do to hold onto the future he sees for himself? And when Emma and Josh find out disturbing things about their friends in the future, will they reveal what’s to come, or will they let events unfold without interference?
Emma and Josh are not always sure what they’re doing with this whole Facebook thing. Each time something happens to change the future, though, it’s driving them further and further apart. Can they get back to a present–and a future–where they are friends? Or is their friendship a thing of the past? Read The Future of Us, an intriguing story by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler, to discover how the little things can change a person’s destiny.
I don’t know if it’s come across here, but I adored this book. It was a quick, easy read, but it also made me think. It probably didn’t hurt that I related so much to the character of Emma. After I finished the book last night, I really contemplated what my teenage self would have done if she had seen my current Facebook page. For one thing, she would have wondered why so many of my posts deal with books. (I read a lot in high school but not nearly as much as I do now.) She would have been confused about why she became a librarian instead of a high school band director. I really think Teen Kelly would have tried to lose some weight so that it wouldn’t become the issue it is today…at least, I hope so. Even though I don’t think I’ve changed all that much since high school, I’m sure my 17-year-old self would disagree, and I’m honestly not sure how my life would be different if I’d had the opportunity to tweak my future a bit. Would it be better? Who knows. But it’s fun to think about.
If you are interested in learning more about The Future of Us or authors Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler, you can visit one or more of these sites:
You can also, of course, find them on Facebook: