It's 1996, and Josh and Emma have been neighbors their whole lives. They've been best friends almost as long--up until last November, when everything changed. Things have been awkward ever since, but when Josh's family gets an American Online CD-ROM in the mail, his mom makes him bring it over so Emma can install it on her new computer. When they sign on, they're automatically logged onto Facebook...but Facebook hasn't been invented yet!
Josh and Emma are looking at their profiles fifteen years in the future. Their spouses, careers, homes, and status updates--it's all there. But it's not what they expected. And every time they refresh their pages, their futures change. As they grapple with the ups and downs of what their lives hold, they're forced to confront what they're doing right--and wrong--in the present.
I loved this book! The nostalgia was fantastic--reliving the cassette tapes, the dial-up, the giddy joy of holding six conversations on AIM at once. I even shrieked a little bit from both happiness and horror when I was reminded that the internet used to mean your phone line was tied up. 1996 is less than 20 years ago, but in many ways, it seems an eternity past. Crazy times. But fun to relive!
I also loved the premise. Two kids being shown their future, and having the power to control it! What could go wrong? Turns out, a lot of things. Emma and Josh are great foils for each other; Emma is too controlling, and Josh is too laid back. Throughout the story Emma has to learn to stop trying so hard to control her relationships, while Josh learns to step up and take risks, both of them opening themselves to hurt as well as hope.
Seeing Facebook through the eyes of someone who was just experiencing the internet for the first time was hilarious, and made me question some of the things I put out for the world to see. Does anyone really care if I'm making macaroni and cheese? Maybe my 1996-self does, actually.
The ending was lovely, though I wish we'd gotten a bit more. For a book that gives two teenagers a glimpse into their future, I thought the whole thing was very believable. I loved both protagonists, and I cheered for their presents and their futures.
Five out of five massive cell phones.
Release Date: November 2011
Reading Level: Grade 9+
Where In Dunlap Public Library's Collection: YPL ASH