Girls meets boy at Ivy League university. Girl and boy graduate and move to New York for work – him in finance, her in philanthropy. The 2008 financial crisis happens.
It’s not a novel plot (pun intended). But that’s where the similarities between this and other books end.
The Futures switches between Julia and Evan’s narration, jumping from the present life in New York to the past (Evan’s upbringing in rural British Columbia, their meeting at Yale, the early days in New York). This was really well executed, as was the character development for them both. I found my feelings towards both of them changing throughout the book, from admiration, to annoyance, frustration, and finally relief. For me, this humanized Evan and Julia, and their relationship.
The presence of the financial crisis in The Futures isn’t accidental, though you’ll wonder why it’s a factor during the first half of the book. There is a larger plot twist related to the crash that snakes through Evan and Julia’s lives – both their personal and professional – and irrevocably changes their relationship. There are the basic hallmarks of any financial crisis novel – douchey banker types, obnoxiously extravagant travel, mistresses. The author succeeds in limiting them to colorful commentary or carefully weaving them into the story, without letting them hijack the book. It’s very easy to caricaturize the Great Recession with these details, but Pitoniak did a great job of peppering them in while keeping The Futures focused on Julia and Evan.
I truly enjoyed the book, despite my original hesitation to read another coming-of-age story set in 2008. It’s beautifully written and offers a fascinating look at how relationships are tested as we grow up. The mark of a great novel, in my opinion, is in the use of restraint in details to let the story shine. The author succeeded, perhaps due to her career as an editor at Random House.
I’d pick up this book after the current season of BILLIONS is over and you’re having withdrawals, or during business trip travel. For me, it’s a little too heavy for a beach read.
Have you read The Futures yet? If so, COMMENT below and let me know!
P.S – my secret to reading over 5 books a month, and a more vacation-friendly novel.