Cannonball Read IV: The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler
It is May 1996, and Emma and Josh are juniors in high school. They’ve been neighbors and best friends forever, or at least until last November when Josh misread some signals and tried to kiss Emma. Oops. They are tentatively reestablishing their friendship now, and Josh brings Emma an AOL trial disk that he got in the mail for her to install on her brand new computer. At this point, fewer than half of high school students had been on the internet. When they finally get online (45 minutes of installation time later), they find the normal stuff they’d expected, like chat, but they also find this strange page with a blue bar across the top called Facebook.
Emma is able to use the email address she’s just created to log in to Facebook, and she starts seeing her own wall and posts from 15 years in her future. They both can’t believe that people would put the kind of stuff they’re seeing on the internet-why does anyone care what someone else had for breakfast? In this future, Emma lives in Florida, is married to some guy and also unemployed. Josh is married to the hottest girl in school who’s up to this point never given him the time of day. These futures are completely surprising to both of them but it’s Emma who takes steps to try to change this future where she’s unhappy. This gets them into a spiral of checking future Facebook and changing what they would’ve done to get them to that future.
The story is told in alternating chapters by Josh and Emma, each set of chapters written by one author that gives them each a distinct voice. As a person who graduated from high school the same year as Emma and Josh, I can report that they also capture pretty perfectly the way I felt about the wonders of the internet at that time-I used to use my dad’s PINE email to send stuff to my friends who’d already graduated and were in college. This book is also an insightful look at how ridiculous the idea of Facebook actually is when you look at it with unobsessed eyes. For today’s teens, who’ve always known the internet, this book could potentially connect them with us old fogeys.
So, a charming story of a friendship and how relationships and actions have repercussions we can’t imagine. Much lighter than Jay Asher’s first book (which I also loved), Thirteen Reasons Why, but still one I read in pretty much one sitting. You should probably read it right now.
For more of effcubed’s reviews, check out her blog, effcubed: Folios, Fiber and Flyballs.
This review is part of Cannonball Read IV. Read all about it.
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