Ella’s Review: The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler

I finished The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler a few weeks ago, and I thought that I’d share my review with all of you this evening.

The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler

Josh and Emma had always been close friends until an incident the previous November, but when Josh gives Emma an AOL CD-ROM for her new computer their lives collide once again as they embark on an amazing digital adventure. Not only does Emma have access to the limited internet content of the late nineties, but she also discovers her Facebook profile fifteen years in the future. During a whirlwind week, Emma and Josh are faced with the ethical dilemma of whether or not to change their future through deliberate actions now or to let their lives unfold naturally.

While the perspective alters from Josh to Emma every other chapter (written by Asher and Mackler, respectively) the book reads fluently with no disruption in style. Also, by writing for their own gender, Asher and Mackler create a more realistic tone for the characters than you find in most YA novels. For those of us old enough, this book will bring back nostalgia of the nineties, the days when using the internet meant listening to the funky noises of a dial-up connection and websites could take (gasp!) over thirty seconds to load, while younger readers will wonder how we all managed to survive without cellphones and Youtube. But perhaps the book’s greatest strength is the way in which you, the reader, will find yourself pondering Josh and Emma’s dilemma long after you finish the final pages. Would you change your future if you could?

If you’d like, you can leave your answer to Josh and Emma’s dilemma in the comments. I’d love to hear what you all think.

Also, I’m looking for some fun ideas for challenges I can do in the coming weeks. I’ve got about eleven days before Nation Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), and my daily writing schedule has been getting a little monotonous. Any post ideas or things you’d like to see me complete? You can also ’em in the comments along with your answer to the first question.

And as always, you can also find me on tumblr at http://emleng93.tumblr.com/, if you’re into that kind of thing.

“Nothing Gold Will Stay”

I have never been a big fan of growing up. I was so distraught on my fifth birthday that I spent around twenty minutes standing at the top of the basement stairs with my face pressed into the corner as I sobbed. Unfortunately, I seem unable to rid myself of this habit, and the panic of maturation strikes me around once a month.

While I do enjoy looking at how my analytical skills have improved and how much more knowledge I now possess, I cannot get over my peers’ and my progressive loss of innocence.

I was in the shower a few days ago, thinking about books, and I suddenly remembered reading The Outsiders in seventh grade. I wasn’t a huge fan of it–the gangs and disobedience held no appeal and upset me quite a bit–but it does one redeeming quality. At some point, Johnny is talking to Ponyboy and he recites the Robert Frost poem, Nothing Gold Can Stay as “an analogy for the fleeting innocence of youth”. Now, I like modern poetry quite a bit, and I really like Frost, so I memorized the end of it and repeat it to myself from time to time whenever I think about growing up.

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

I try to preserve that gold for as long as I can. It’s a foolish effort and almost always brings me a lot of grief. I get so wrapped up in the securities of my past that I almost never accept change with grace. When the boys started cursing on the playground in sixth grade, I cried. It was clear that childhood was coming to a close, and adolescence would be soon begin. Later, at thirteen, I remember picking up one of my dolls and feeling like I didn’t know what to do with them anymore. I was entirely at a loss and went off to read the New York Times. I still keep three of my dolls in my room, weirdly hopeful that maybe it was all a fluke and that I’ll suddenly be able to play with them again.

I’ve dragged my feet through every milestone event (with the exception of getting my ears pierced when I was ten), and the fact that I’ll be a legal adult in less than three weeks is terrifying. I mean voting is nice and all, but I’d still like to think that stupid is a dirty, dirty word and that using “bathroom talk” will get you a time-out.

Though, truth be told, I am excited to become an adult and have capital R Responsibilities. I just want to think about it as a event that’s going to happen far, far in the future. Something that I can imagine and speculate about and not something to begin planning for. And while I do want to leave behind the emotional pain of my childhood and adolescence, I just want it to happen now with out any significant maturation.

But the thoughts that I’ve written here aren’t constant. Somedays, I’m desperate to grow up and love how mature I’ve become. People my age are so much more interesting than before, and they’re only going to continue to get that way. Besides, I would never want to be seventeen forever.

Because Gosh Darn It, I Wanna Be An Expert

Have you ever had the feeling that you’re not exactly a notable person? I know that I certainly have. I have yet to do anything really interesting, and I’m not spectacular at any one skill. Now, one of my life goals is to have a Wikipedia page all about me (Really, Ella? We all know that isn’t going to happen.), and if I ever want that to become a reality, I’ve got to become an expert in something. Unfortunately, I haven’t determined what this thing is yet. What I have determined are a lot of things that I will never be an expert in.

1) I will never become an expert in hair. While my life’s dream from the ages of three to six was to become a “hair-cutter-er”, I only succeeded in proving my ineptitude with a pair of scissors. Once, I cut off a good portion of Pippa’s hair with these. Another time, I cut off some of her hair and then sprayed her head with air freshener. If you didn’t know already, air freshener burns your skin. Pippa spent the next thirty minutes in the bathtub crying while my mom called Poison Control. A little while after that, I gave up and decided that I wanted to be an author. I’m not a complete failure in this department, though. I can trim hair and replicate hair styles pretty well. I just will never, ever, ever be a hair stylist.

2) I will never become an expert in anything that requires Algebra Two. Anything. Freshman year, I spent that class (a Junior year course that I took at the high honors level) staring out of the window, looking at the clock, and thinking, “WHY ON EARTH DID I GET PUT IN THIS COURSE?!? I DON’T UNDERSTAND ANY OF IT.” Let’s put it this way, I did not fail or get a D, but I really did not do well.

3) I will never become an expert in any field that requires me to dance. Remember this post where I wrote a short story about ballet? And remember the part where I talk about the girl being kicked out of her dance class? Well, that happened to me. Thankfully, I came to terms with this failing many, many years ago, and it has never truly upset me. Still, dancing is firmly on the list of skills that I really want to become an expert in.

4) I will never become an expert in avoiding accidents. If there is a set of stairs, I will trip. If I am sitting on a desk and someone has left their cup near me, I will knock it over. Once, I accidentally hit a cup of soda and it went flying across the classroom. That was also the day that I knocked over three other cups (Of course, none of those cups were empty, and all of them belonged to other people.) and later fell over while going down the stairs.

5) I will never become an expert in any sport. Half of the reason is explained above, and the other half is the fact that I have minimal upper body strength and no hand-eye coordination. In fact, the one season that I did play soccer in elementary school, I missed or kicked the ball in a bizarre angle more often that not.

This list could go on and on. The list of things that I’m bad at would also go on for a very long time. Some examples: Waking up when one of my five alarms has gone off at an obscene hour and is blaring, handling loud noises, et cetera

I wish that I knew of some clever way to end this post. Some way to appear witty and optimistic. But I don’t. Instead, all I can say is, I want to be an expert, a true expert, in some field. I don’t want to be just mediocre or somewhat good at a few things. I want to be remembered for some sort of excellence. Thankfully, I’ve got a few (more like 70) years left to work this all out.

Goodness, I sound whiney.