Thursday, October 16, 2014

Review: Glory O'Brien's History of the Future by A.S. King

First, thanks to Little Brown Books for Young Readers and Edelweiss for allowing me to read an e-galley of this.  I have wanted to read a book by this author for a long time as I've heard great things about them.  However my review of this book doesn't necessarily reflect what I've heard.  Let me lead off by saying that as I read it, I could totally see why it is such a talked up book.  It had so many good things about it.  Unfortunately, it just wasn't my cup of tea.  Normally when I don't like a book I won't review it.  But I still think this one is worth talking about even if I didn't like it, because I think lots of other people will enjoy it, including my students, which means I will probably purchase it to put in our library. 

The main character is Glory O'Brien.  And she's at the end of her high school career, just about time to graduate.  She's kind of a loner.  Her one friend, Ellie, lives on the commune across the street from her house.  The older they get though, Glory isn't sure they really are that great of friends, they don't really have much in common since Ellie's mom, who runs the commune, took Ellie out of public school to be schooled on the commune.  Plus, Ellie's really pretty boy crazy.  Has been for a long time.  Glory has always had more serious things on her mind.  Mainly, her mother committing suicide when she was a little girl using the oven in their house.  Ever since then, she and her dad have been living a kind of quiet, not very full life.  As graduation approaches, Glory feels it is time to do something.  Whether that is taking the same path as her mom, or going off to college or anywhere else, remains to be seen. 

A few summers ago, there had been a bat hanging on Ellie's porch.  They'd left it alone, assuming it was just sleeping whenever they saw it in the day.  Yet it was always in the exact same place, same position, for months and months.  When they finally decide to check it out, by nudging it with a long stick, it falls to the ground, and they realize it is dead.  They take it and put it in a jar, joking about maybe it is god.  Ellie's mother finds it around the time our story is taking place and is so upset she shakes the jar around, eventually turning the bat into a pile of ashes within the jar.  One night Ellie convinces Glory to pour beer into the ashes and they drink it.  They get drunk from the beer, but then the next day they start seeing these strange things when they look at any other person.  Their history, family members, etc.  And also their futures.

All these things are going on while Glory is trying to figure out her life, taking pictures, finally getting her dad to let her use her mom's dark room to develop film, and graduating.  Also, finding things out about her mom and dad in the past, and deciding if she wants to be friends anymore with Ellie, figuring out just how selfish Ellie has always been.

I think this was a very realistic book for how teens feel about friends, wondering if they're friendship is really a true one, especially at the age when many go off to college and leave their friends back home.  I know that I went through something like this.  My high school best friends didn't go to college, and we kind of lost touch once we all moved on to our own lives.  And the "future" stuff that Glory saw was very interesting and creative.  I enjoyed reading that stuff.  And the ending, well I did really like the way it ended I guess. 

So while it won't be one of my favorite books, I can definitely see how others will really enjoy it, and I will know just who to recommend it to, including at least one teacher at my school.