19) The Future of Us, by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler
Emma gets her first computer in 1996, when she’s 17. Her neighbor and former best friend Josh comes over and gives her the free AOL trial CD-ROM he got in the the mail that his mom won’t let him install. And then Facebook!
Yes, Facebook. When Emma finally gets AOL downloaded, it automatically opens Facebook, and she’s looking at her life in 2011, 15 years down the road. She and Josh are initially fascinated, but start to worry about what they know. Josh’s future looks great - he’s married to the prettiest girl in their grade, living in a huge house on the lake, has adorable twins, and is apparently doing very well in graphic design. He’d rather not change anything about it, but Emma’s not so happy with what she sees in her future, and she takes action to change it. Now, every time they refresh, they see an update on what the future will be, and it’s affecting the way they’re living now.
It’s just a really cool book. I don’t know if it’s a book that will resonate as well with kids too young to remember that distant land that was 1996, but even so, it’s a cool way to look into the future. Think of the kinds of things you post on Facebook - you can never get a full picture of what’s going on without the context you get from actually knowing those people. Since Emma and Josh are looking into the future and only getting fragmented information about themselves, it’s hard for them to know if they’re changing or solidifying what they see in Emma’s newsfeed.
It is a trading perspectives book, with Emma and Josh trading off. Their narrative voices aren’t super different, and they have all the same friends, so it is a little bit confusing, especially with such short chapters.