Monday, December 3, 2012
The Future of Us
The Future of Us
Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler
Plot Summary: The year is 1996 and Josh and Emma have been best friends and neighbors their whole lives. That is until last November when everything changed and Josh admitted his feelings toward Emma in an ill-timed kiss. Unfortunately, Josh's feelings were not reciprocated and everything has been awkward since. Josh tries to reopen communication when his family receives a free AOL disc in the mail. Since Josh does not have the Internet, he decides to take it to Emma to install on her new computer—a gift to her from her father before he left the family. When Emma creates an account she hops online only to find a website called Facebook bookmarked on her homepage. As they investigate profiles of themselves supposedly written 15 years in the future they go from believing it to be a massive prank to wondering if they are really viewing their potential future selves. Emma, not happy with what she reads, decides to try and change her future life by altering her present one which affects Josh’s pretty awesome prospects. With every refresh of the page, they soon have to work together and come to terms with the very real possibility that if they don’t their future they have to change who they are today starting by taking a real look at who they are and who they want to be.
Critical Evaluation: This is a solid entry in YA fiction by two pretty established authors collaborating together. Each character is well drawn and relatable to both genders. Everyone will fall in love with Josh for his slightly nerdy portrayal as the guy who put his heart on his sleeve for love and gets rejected by Emma, the girl who is too oblivious to see love when it’s standing right in front of her. Due to Josh’s nerdy background it’s also pretty hilarious to see who he winds up married to in his future and readers can understand why he’s reluctant to try to change the course of his life. Of course, while Emma is trying to change everything about her future, Josh is trying to figure out what it is he does that gets him such a good one. Emma is a mixed-up girl—she clearly has feelings for Josh but is too scared to admit it and keeps going out of her way to date jerks. She can actually be quite bitchy at times, especially as she attempts to change her future and make it better and instead makes it worse and worse. Josh is the rational one who sees the consequences of messing with their futures—that they aren’t just affecting their own lives but the lives of other people too. The only downside to the book is that some references to things in the late 1990s will easily go over current readers’ heads but those should be forgiven as readers will get a kick out of Josh and Emma attempting to navigate Facebook and all the things it does. We all know the story will have a happy ending, but by the end there are a few questions that are left unanswered (such as the potential future of Emma’s best friend who is supposedly going to get pregnant very soon).
Reader's Annotation: It is 1996 and Josh takes a new AOL CD-ROM to his friend Emma (since she has a computer). When Emma installs it, she and Josh are met with an interesting website—Facebook. Problem is Facebook doesn’t get invented until 15 years later . . .
Jay Asher was born in Arcadia, California, on September 30th, 1975. He grew up in a family that encouraged all of his interests, from playing the guitar to his writing. He attended Cuesta College right after graduating from high school. It was here where he wrote his first two children’s books for a class called Children’s Literature Appreciation. At this point in his life, he had decided he wanted to become an elementary school teacher. He then transferred to California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo where he left his senior year in order to pursue his career as a serious writer. Throughout his life he worked in various establishments, including as a salesman in a shoe store and in libraries and bookstores. Many of his work experiences had an impact on some aspect of his writing. He is the author of Thirteen Reasons Why and The Future of Us (Asher, n.d.).
Carolyn Mackler is the author of the popular teen novels, The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things (a Michael L. Printz Honor Book),Tangled, Guyaholic, Vegan Virgin Valentine, and Love and Other Four-Letter Words. Carolyn’s most recent novel, The Future of Us, co-written with bestselling author Jay Asher, has received starred reviews, and the film rights have been sold to Warner Brothers. Carolyn’s novels have been published in several countries, including the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, France, Italy, Korea, the Netherlands, Denmark, Israel, and Indonesia. Carolyn has contributed to anthologies for teens, including Dear Bully: 70 Authors Tell Their Stories. She has a short story in Thirteen, edited by James Howe, and in Sixteen, edited by Megan McCafferty. Carolyn regularly writes short stories for American Girl. Carolyn lives in New York City with her husband and two young sons (Mackler, n.d.).
Genre: Realistic, Science Fiction
Curriculum Ties: Technology (what would you want your future profile to look like?)
Booktalking Ideas: Discuss what it would be like to access your profile in 15 years? Read a quirky section about Emma and Josh accessing Facebook and not understanding the features.
Reading Level/Interest Age: 14+
Challenge Issues: Mild language, some sexual situations (getting to second base in public), some drinking
Challenge Defense: If this book were challenged, I would make sure the library has a Challenge Defense File ready for such a situation. Inside the Challenge Defense File, librarians and the public could find:
· A copy of the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights. (Can be found and printed from ALA’s website at http://www.ala.org/advocacy/intfreedom/librarybill)
· A copy of the American Library Association’s Freedom to Read Statement (Can be found and printed from ALA’s website at http://www.ala.org/offices/oif/statementspols/ftrstatement/freedomreadstatement)
· A copy of the library’s own selection policy (my library, the La Vista Public Library, has a policy but it is not online so I can’t link to it as an example).
· A copy of the library’s citizen’s complaint/reconsideration form (my library, the La Vista Public Library’s, form is called the City of La Vista Service Request form).
· Copies of reviews—both good and bad—from reputable library and publishing services to justify why a book was selected for inclusion in the collection. These include not only reviews from such journals as School Library Journal, VOYA, Horn Book, Publishers Weekly, and Booklist, but also any mention of books on YALSA lists and other copies of articles about any awards or nominations such books may have received.
· Include a short rationale file for other coworkers so if the librarian in charge of selecting materials is not available when a challenge occurs the other staff members have some information to go by (the rational would include such information as a short summary, what could be challenged, reviews, awards and nominations, etc.)
· Include for staff members a copy of “Strategies and Tips for Dealing with Challenges to Library Materials,” a document written by the American Library Association. Make sure that staff reviews this document periodically so they are prepared and know how to face such situations. (Can be found and printed from ALA’s website at http://www.ala.org/advocacy/banned/challengeslibrarymaterials/copingwithchallenges/strategiestips)
Reason for Inclusion: Two great YA authors writing a realistic story that has a hint of sci-fi in it.
Jay Asher. (n.d.). Goodreads author profile. Retrieved from http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/569269.Jay_Asher