The Futures by Anna Pitoniak
Publisher: Michael Joseph
UK publication date: 01 June 2017
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This review is spoiler-free.
This is a story about falling in love, and of a relationship that’s falling apart.
It’s the story of a young couple, graduating from Yale and moving to New York in search of the shared future they’d always dreamed about. Of crisp morning strolls through Central Park, taxi horns and the bustle of tourists, salty hot pretzels and the glitter of Broadway and long summer days that stretch like shadows across the sidewalk.
It’s a story of high expectations and missed opportunities, of growing up, taking chances and making terrible mistakes.
This is Evan and Julia’s story.
This is a love story.
But nobody said it ends happily.*
I’ve been reading a lot of books with romance in them lately and The Futures was a great break from that. Be warned: it is not the story of a charming couple meeting, falling in love, and living happily ever after; it is about the breakdown of a relationship that is crumbling before the first page. Most of us have seen a doomed relationship fall apart, whether its friends or family, or maybe even your own. We’ve seen people do stupid things because they’re unhappy and refuse to call it quits even when they have fallen out of love. So why do people engage in these destructive behaviours? The Futures gives us a perspective into both sides of the story as Julia and Evan’s college relationship crumbles as they enter the so-called real world. Set just before the financial crash of 2008, the personal and social changes are highlighted by the backdrop of New York City.
I think the key to enjoying this book is to realise that Julia and Evan are not good people. Can you sympathise with them? Of course, but neither of them fills the role of the romantic hero/heroine that swoops in and makes everything okay. They both make incredibly poor, selfish, and misguided decisions in their personal and professional lives that lead to serious repercussions. However it isn’t easy to hate them because they’re just ordinary people. He is a rising star at New York’s top hedge fund whose main personality traits are that he doesn’t pay too much attention and keeps quiet. She is a an art history graduate who is desperately trying to figure out what to do with her life as she works a dead-end job that she hates. They walk through life in a trance, her desperate for her boyfriend’s attention and him not realising how seriously he is neglecting her and their life. These are people I knew when I lived in New York in my early to mid-twenties. There are thousands just like them across the country. Their story is so tragic because it is so ordinary, so common. When you decide to sit back and let the train wreck happen, the book becomes incredibly enjoyable (or maybe I’m just a bad person).
I was really impressed with the way the author uses New York City and the financial crash to set the scene. I loved zipping around the city with Evan and Julia as they venture from Manhattan to Brooklyn. She uses the settings well, and I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that she is or was a New Yorker herself. The financial crisis escalading in the background adds to the low level of underlying tension and misery in the book. Evan is swept up in it at his work, while Julia and their former classmates fear for their jobs and struggle to find employment. I really loved Evan’s story of working at the hedge fund while everything spins out of control. The fear of layoffs, cuts, and unemployment pepper his story as he struggles to stay afloat at his job. I felt this was so well done and held my interest the most of all the entwining storylines.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I do think the key is to sit back and enjoy the ride – don’t get caught up in what you would do in their situation. Evan and Julia are deeply flawed, but redeemable characters; we all know someone like them.
*Copy courtesy of Goodreads