The Future of Us

Book review by
Kate Pavao, Common Sense Media
The Future of Us Book Poster Image
Popular with kids
Fun time-travel twist teaches importance of now.

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 13 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Families can have fun discussing whether or not they would want to know the future. Kids and parents might want to discuss what has changed between 1996 and now.


Positive Messages

Emma and Josh learn to let go of their anxiety over the future and go after what they want in the present (i.e. a relationship with each other).

Positive Role Models & Representations

Friends are supportive of each other, and parents are well-meaning (though still frustrating). Emma and Josh are far from perfect, but they care deeply for each other and work through their problems.


By looking into the future, Emma sees that one of her friends gets pregnant as a teen. Josh's brother is in a relationship with a man. Josh keeps a condom in his wallet. There's some discussion of characters who are "more experienced" and even a classroom debate over when a boy needs to stop. The protagonists share some kisses.


Some band names, AOL, Facebook, Cheetos, Doritos, Mountain Dew, Coke, Jeep Cherokee, plus movies including Toy Story and Wayne's World.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Teens drink beer at a high school party. The main characters go to the party but stay sober, and even remind one character he can't drink because he's driving.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this is a book about kids growing up in the '90s who mysteriously get access to Facebook -- and their futures. This could spark discussion of whether one would want to know the future. Parents need to know that there really isn't much content to worry about here. By looking into the future, Emma sees that one of her friends gets pregnant as a teen, and there is some discussion of sex and birth control. Also, the protagonists go to a high school party where teens drink beer. Other than that, and some brand-name-dropping, there is a pretty clean story about two teens who learn to go after what they want right now.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byabbacus March 16, 2014

Very enjoyable read!

I thought this book was very good! I liked the characters and the story-line (although I feel like the story didn't quite reach it's full potential).... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bytackypineapple September 2, 2018

Wow! Really Creative!!

A really good book based in 1960's. The book spans out in only week. There was only one like "bad" part which had to do with the s e word. But I... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byThat_Fleet_Girl June 13, 2015

Pretty good

This is a great book of you like High School kid first person based kind of books (sorry if that wasn't clear, I'm not great with words). Anyway this... Continue reading

What's the story?

When Josh gives an AOL CD-ROM to his childhood friend Emma, these teens -- living in 1996 -- can somehow tap into Facebook, which means they can see their futures. While Josh is a rich graphic artist married to a beautiful, popular high school classmate, Emma appears trapped in an unhappy marriage. And that's not all: One friend has a daughter so old she must have gotten pregnant in high school -- and Josh's brother is in a relationship with a man. As their anxiety over their futures begins to warp the present, Josh and Emma have to decide to stop worrying about tomorrow. If they don't focus on the present, they might miss out on the most important thing: a relationship with each other.

Is it any good?

Readers will have fun with the premise here, and watching how even small changes have a big impact in Emma's and Josh's future lives. (As Emma intentionally intervenes with her future, she goes through several different husbands and city locations, sensing each time that she is still unhappy; Josh, meanwhile, begins a relationship with the girl destined to one day be his wife, but can't feel any spark.) There may never be any doubt that these two are meant to be together, but they are each flawed enough to make for some good romantic tension leading up to that inevitable hook up. The alternating perspectives allow readers into Emma's and Josh's heads enough to understand their anxieties and track their growing realization that they need to go after what they actually want, even if it means getting hurt along the way. Ultimately, this is a well-constructed novel that's clever, provoking, and, in the end, pretty sweet.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the future. If you could know yours, would you want to? What would be the pros and cons of knowing where you go to college, who you marry, etc.? What do you think the authors' take on this idea is?

  • Also, were you surprised by how much life had changed in past 15 years? In Emma's house, you had to use the phone line to connect to the Internet. What were some other differences you spotted between the 1996 and now? What was the biggest surprise?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love coming-of-age stories

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