Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Futures

Title:  The Futures
Author:  Anna Pitoniak
Publication Information:  Lee Boudreaux Books. 2017. 320 pages.
ISBN:  0316354171 / 978-0316354172

Book Source:  I received this book as a publisher's galley through NetGalley free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "It was a story that made sense."

Favorite Quote:  "This was part of the problem ... There had been no dramatic betrayals. Instead there was a long stretch of absence. Where I saw an accumulating string of rejections, lonely nights and questions unasked, Evan probably saw a normal relationship."

College ends, and "real" life begins. You must now navigate being a grown up and all that being a grown up entails. Job. Career. Boss. Colleagues. Family. Friends Home. Relationships. Ex-relationships. How do you cope? What road maps exist to help you find your way? What if you cannot find your way? What if the path you start down turns out to be the wrong path? How do you own the fact that you may have chosen wrong? How do you even know? Before you know, "real" life is happening, and you are in the middle of it. No guarantees. No directions. Just you and your choices.

This is where Julia and Evan find themselves. They meet at Yale University as undergraduates. Julia is from the East Coast. Evan is from a small town in Canada, recruited to Yale for his ice hockey skills. At graduation, Evan lands a job with a prestigious hedge fund in New York. Julia is not sure of her direction; when Evan asks her to move with him, she says yes. Evan is busy carving out a career in the investment world as the market heads for a meltdown. Julia finds herself in New York, directionless and wondering if she did the right thing.

In a lot of ways, this book is a coming of age story. Generally, I think of such stories in the context of children growing older. Although they are not children, Julia and Evan are now stepping in adulthood, figuring out who they are as individuals and as a couple.

The book presents both Julia's and Evan's perspective in this first person narrative. It also goes back and forth between the present and different times in their college days. Sometimes, the perspective and the time period shifts with no warning. As such, it becomes difficult at times to see where the story is. I did a lot of re-reading to keep up.

The characters are not particularly likable, and their choices are often off-putting. Julia's character at times does not ring true, but her lack of direction and her lack of career opportunities seem to belie her background and her Ivy League education. There is a lot of drinking. There is also a lot of sleeping around, and a lot of thinking about other partners by two people supposedly in a committed relationship.  Be warned that there is one scene that reads like sexual assault, but it is described as a memory of a perfectly ordinary occurrence. I find the presentation of how that relationship continues shocking. Yet, at the same time, the characters are compelling, and their struggles of "real" life draw you in.

Mind you, their "struggles" are first world problems. Evan lands a prime job before graduation. Julia is well-connected socially, and that helps her along. They are financially stable and seem to have the extras for travel and restaurants. This is not a story about college graduates unable to find work and struggling to pay of student debt. Real life is an affluent version of "real."

This book has its highs and lows, and I am somewhat torn how I feel. Enough compels me to keep reading to see where the book goes, and to say that this is a promising debut novel.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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