Thursday, February 12, 2015

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

Glory O'Brien is days away from high school graduation when she and her best (read: only) friend drink a few beers and also the remains of a petrified bat.  You read that correctly.  After drinking the bat, Glory and Ellie start seeing things...  if they look at a person, they can see that person's entire history and their future.  But they don't see anything when they look at each other, and Glory doesn't see any future events when she looks at her father.  Does that mean that she has no future, no descendants?  Is her destiny really to end up like her mother who committed suicide thirteen years ago?

This is such a crazy premise, and for a short bit at the beginning I almost gave up on it.  But I've read A.S. King before, and thankfully I trusted in her and her gritty, non-traditional storytelling.  Because this is worth sticking through to the end.  I really loved how this all came together.  Glory is so lost, still mourning the loss of her mother - and not just the day to day, although sure - but more of just having her around to talk to.  Someone to really talk to, and not just bullshit.  Nobody around her even mentions that her mother is gone and why... as if ignoring it makes it go away or makes it better or something.  This is a scary time for Glory too - graduation.  The big ceremony which means "welcome to your future, what have you decided to do?"  because she doesn't know.  She doesn't know if she has a future.  So Glory is examining her past, finding new ways to connect with her mother and force difficult conversations with her dad.

In the meantime, she and Ellie are seeing visions of the pasts and futures of those around them.  I loved that their visions were so completely different.  Ellie is self-centered and shallow, and those are the kinds of things she sees in her visions.  Glory recognizes and feels pain and sees that in her visions.  Glory is able to put together a timeline of events in the future based on her kinds of visions, which get pretty intense and are fascinating.  Another theme which runs through this book is feminism and not giving into the male-dominated consumerist ideal for what others think women should want, feel, look like, etc.  It is brilliantly done....  Glory is such a strong character, even if she doesn't realize it herself.

I really think this could be an excellent book for a book club or discussion group, but only for teens (or even adults) who aren't afraid of a darker tale that gets a little unusual in spots.  This wouldn't be for younger teens or reluctant readers at all.  If the reader liked Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith, this would be a sure thing.


*****
Glory O'Brien's History of the Future
by A.S. King
LBYR, 2014
307 pages
Source:  Library
*****

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