Thank You to Little Brown and Company for providing me with an advanced copy of Anna Pitoniak’s novel, The Futures, in exchange for an honest review.
PLOT– Set during the financial crash of 2008, Anna Pitoniak’s novel, The Futures, follows the lives of recent Yale graduates, Julia and Evan, as they move to New York City, and begin their careers. Evan is a sweet and honest man from a small town in Canada. After attending Yale University on a ice hockey scholarship, he is aggressively pursued, and offered a “too good to be true” job at a hedge fund. Although the situation seems far outside of his skill set, he gets swept away by the high income and perks, also seeing the job as a way of staying in the United States and being with Julia. Julia, comes from a wealthy family, who supports her as she flounders on her way to figuring out a post-university career. Can Julia and Evan’s relationship survive outside of the protected walls of an Ivy League University? How will the financial crash shape their futures, both as individuals and as a couple?
LIKE – The Futures is timely, with the repercussions of the financial crash still affecting us today, and it was certainly an event that shaped the futures of those who graduated from college around 2008. Setting the book during this time added another level to the story, it made me wonder how much the timing factored into Julia and Evan’s struggles? Would they really have fared better if they had been born five or ten years earlier? Are their problems unique to 2008-ish, or are their problems the same ones that many new college graduates face, regardless the decade? I suspect it’s more the latter. I’m in my late thirties, and although I can’t say I escaped 2008 unscathed, I certainly wasn’t affected in the same way as Julia and Evan’s generation, however I found their general problems to be completely relatable. This idea of generation vs. stage of life, kept me engaged in the story.
Pitoniak’s framing of The Futures, reminded me of Jason Robert Brown’s musical, The Last Five Years. The Futures doesn’t go backwards/forwards in time like, The Last Five Years ( which is brilliant), but it does have a similarity with the way we see the two perspectives of Julia and Evan, as equal protagonists. Also similar, is how we see the same situation, like what happened at a party, from both perspectives in alternating chapters. Neither Evan or Julia are unreliable narrators, however as a reader, it’s easy to jump on the side of the point of view that you read first. I liked how Pitoniak shook that up, allowing the reader to see the same situation from both sides. Most similar to, The Last Five Years, was the sad and reflective tone, as we see a relationship between two people with good intentions, head on a collision course.
DISLIKE – I felt an emotional distance in many of the scenes, more like I was being told how the characters felt, rather than experiencing their emotions. All of the elements of the story added up; solid protagonists, clear conflict, engaging plot, et…Pitoniak’s writing was also very strong, except for emotions, it was like a wall was up and I wasn’t getting a full experience.
RECOMMEND– Maybe. I’m not sure that I would recommend The Futures to many of my friends, however, I’d recommend it to their younger sisters, or to someone in their late teens/early twenties. I think it would be of interest to anyone who graduated college around the time of the financial crash. In general, I felt that The Futures was a story that skewed to a younger audience.