Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future by A.S. King is an interesting combination of realistic fiction and fantasy. As I was reading, it was the realistic fiction parts of the story that I found to be the strengths of the book. At the beginning of the story, Glory lacks an identity. She has graduated high school and has no plans for the future. She is unsure if she is destined to follow in the footsteps of her mother, who committed suicide, and she struggles with her tentative friendship with Ellie. By the end of the story, Glory has changed and has a clear vision of who she is as well as what she wants in her life.
At first, I discounted the fantasy, bat-induced visions that King included. I felt that they fell too far outside the realm of believable, and Glory’s story could stand without them. However, I have come to the realization that the visions of the future were indeed pivotal to Glory’s change.
Overall, Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future is a well-written young adult realistic fantasy. Glory is a very real and believable character who readers will want to see change and overcome her insecurities about the future. Glory struggles with society’s view of women, and an unstable friendship, and these topics will be familiar to high school girls.
Dealing with suicide and death is a theme of Glory O’Brien. Throughout the book, Glory contemplates why her mother committed suicide and what that means to Glory and her future. At one point she states, “We were a diptych. Mother-and-daughter diptych. She killed things, and I showed the hole that followed.” (p. 222) According to the Jason Foundation, “Each day in our nation there are an average of over 5,400 [suicide] attempts by young people grades 7-12.” Books like Glory O’Brien help teens grapple with this difficult concept in a way that is safe. Other books that deal with this topic are Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher and Looking for Alaska by John Green. All stories show characters that have been left behind to deal with the suicide/death of someone close.