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. (Goodreads)
A coming of age novel about college romance and unachievable dreams, The Futures by Anna Pitoniak is heart breaking and frustrating in equal measure, as you will be gripped by the plotline but also desperate to knock some sense into the characters.
The story begins with Julia and Evan meeting at Yale, with their friendship soon turning to romance as adulthood beckons them forwards. From a tiny Canadian village, Evan is at college as a result of an ice hockey scholarship, whilst Julia is from a wealthy American family with connections that could easily open doors. They come from different backgrounds but their chemistry is immediate, sharing a companionship that grows from strength to strength, even surviving Julia’s semester spent in Paris.
Harboured by the safe haven at college, the trouble begins when they move in together and start afresh in New York. Evan has accepted his hockey skills are not good enough for the big leagues, and has instead landed a job at Spire, one of New York’s biggest hedge fund companies. The role is one of the most competitive in the city, and Evan can’t wait to work his way up and make a better life for him and Julia, putting them on a more even level.
However, all of Evan’s excitement at moving to the big city is matched by Julia’s melancholy, as she feels directionless with no job and no idea what she wants to do. She finds a secretarial job that requires her to deal with an awkward boss, all the while growing increasingly bored and dissatisfied. As Evan spends longer and longer in the office trying to make a good impression, Julia is left alone and finds herself longing for excitement and someone to notice her, which isn’t helped by bumping into an old flame. With things growing difficult for Evan at work, Julia is no longer supportive of him and they begin to feel like strangers in their own home, wondering how they got to this sorry point.
The plot unfolds with precision, with events happening at an exact pace that fits with the level of character development. There are no extraneous details and everything seems structured around these two lives that are falling apart right before our eyes. Having seen their relationship begin it is hard to watch it unravel, and you find yourself willing them to get back on track and actually pay some attention to each other.
That said, I grew increasingly frustrated with Julia as a character and found myself hating her at times for what she does. She is impetuous and selfish, caring only for herself and letting her jealousy of Evan’s success overrule everything else. Now that she is not the centre of attention she struggles to know what she wants out of life, with her lack of ambition forcing her to find meaning elsewhere, finding petty reasons to justify her betrayal of their relationship. I could empathise with her uncertainty about a future career and moving to a new city, and her loneliness when Evan’s workload increases, but I was willing her to open her mouth and actually discuss how she felt with Evan.
He faces a similar problem with the lack of communication, as he becomes obsessed with work and starts to show less interest in Julia’s day and how she has been coping with city life. I did think that he took her presence for granted, but at the same time he was desperate to make something of his life and prove himself worthy of Julia’s family. Things become increasingly difficult at work as he finds that he is wrapped up in a finance scandal that could ruin the company, especially given the market crash that has left so many friends unemployed. I thought he was naive not to realise sooner, and grew annoyed at him burying his head in the sand, ignoring everything that was going on around him.
As the novel goes on it becomes clear that there a number of factors contributing to the increasing number of cracks between them, and that their problems do not have a single root cause. Whether or not they can resolve their differences is the factor that kept me hooked, barely able to put the book down until I knew the outcome. Even though I thought the characters were horrible and selfish, there was something compelling about them and so real that I couldn’t stop myself from devouring every page and hoping for a brighter future, even if they weren’t fully deserving of it. I would thoroughly recommend this book and think it paints a great likeness of modern life and the transition into adulthood.
A fantastic novel offering that little something different, I thought this book cleverly delved into the realism of modern life and the troubles faced upon on the transition to adulthood. The characters take on lives of their own and I was completely and utterly absorbed in finding out what their fate would be. I can’t recommend this book highly enough as a work of contemporary fiction, even if there is a melancholy edge that means you won’t necessarily be left with a happy ending.