Author: Albert Brooks.
Publisher: St. Martins Press 2011.
Quite frankly, I would probably not have given this book a glance if I had just looked at the cover. It would seem that a book cover should draw a potential reader to want to pick the book up and feel compelled to at least glance at the inside blurb that tells what the book is about. This cover failed miserably. It is boring to look at, and the title leaves the impression that it is a non-fiction book. Had it not been suggested to me at my book club I would not have even considered reading it. But it was, and I did, and, surprisingly, I enjoyed it.
As usual, I have taken the time, before writing my own review, of reading a number of other reviews. Almost all give it a favorable rating but there are a few diehards who hated it. Any book can be picked to death and found wanting. Some felt it did not develop its characters enough. Well, there is a bit of truth to that but there was enough to make me feel I knew all I needed to know about them to satisfy me and let the story tell itself.
I didn’t need to know every detail about a young person to realize he might be bitter in feeling that finding a cure for cancer allowed a whole lot of people to live long past our now expected life span at youth’s expense. In the year 2030 the AARP is even more powerful politically than it is now. And if you want to be elected to a seat in government you had better cater to those voters who, though old, now are in the majority.
And those folks (the “Olds” as they are referred to in the book) want to keep on living and continue to do it at the expense of the government. In 2012, there is much talk of how the young can possibly continue to support Social Security and Medicare and in 2030, it has all come true. They just can’t. And they have started to get organized and rebel against those conditions. Universal Health Care has become a part of everyday life but you better make sure you pay your premiums or you are plain out of luck if you become ill.
One young lady has become saddled with a hospital debt of over $350,000 for a one week stay for her father after he is shot while performing a job as a guard. Ironically, he took the job so he could afford to pay his health care premiums which he had not paid for 18 months. Unfortunately, as they say, a day late and a dollar short.
One could make the argument that there is plenty of fodder for a whole book to be written on just that conflict alone, but there is a whole lot more piled up on the plate when a 9.1 earthquake levels Los Angeles. The U.S. economy is deeply in debt and has borrowed to its very limit from every available country in the world. There seems to be no possible way that it can come up with the money to reconstruct the largest city in the United States until China, after refusing to loan us more than several hundred billion dollars, “pocket money,” comes up with a plan to become our partner in building a whole new city.
To round out the story we see how the government, headed by our first Jewish president, who is supported by our first female Secretary of the Treasury, tries to handle the many tragic situations. We learn how it feels to be a man in his eighties who has invested his lifetime savings in a condo in Los Angeles which is now lost forever. He has no hope of ever being repaid since no insurance company can possibly have prepared for such catastrophic loss. We meet a young man with strong convictions, determined to right at least some of the wrongs by slaying the villains as he sees them…the “Olds.”
Does 2030 address war, famine, pestilence, S.T.Ds and every other problem facing the world today? Nope, it doesn’t pretend to. Will it take the place of War and Peace, Of Mice and Men or the Bible on your bookshelf? Hardly. But is it worth reading? I think it is.
There are no flying saucers in this book, though there are cars that drive themselves. There are no aliens from another planet, though there are robots that perform surgery at the direction of others in distant cities. However, there is certainly a whole lot to think about what 2030 may hold. Much can be foreseen in what we see happening each and every day of our lives in 2012. What of the story is inevitable and what is coming that perhaps, we can alter? It is not too early to think about 2030 in depth, and in fact, we may be too late already.
Diane Bostick has lived on Marco Island since 1987. She was the Founder and President of Ft. Myers chapter of the Association of Children with Learning Disabilities, President of Jr. Welfare League, Ft. Myers Chapter, and served on the board of Art League of Marco Island. She is an avid reader, fly fisherwoman, tennis player and crafter.