Future Girl (Asphyxia, A&U)
The events of Future Girl play out in a future Melbourne that is eerily plausible. Food has been largely replaced by recon, an all-in-one food replacement that is marketed as safer than ‘wild food’ with the added benefits of built in fat zappers and cancer cures—and Piper’s mum is the scientist behind it all. Irene works hard and expects a lot, including that Piper wear her hearing aids at all times so that she can pass as ‘normal’. But the pressure to conform is giving Piper headaches. It isn’t until a global oil crisis tips everything upside down that Piper discovers the intense pleasure of growing food from seed and is introduced to the Deaf community—a place where she feels truly at home. Piper’s relationship with Marley, a CODA (child of a Deaf adult), opens her eyes to the kind of life she wants for herself. Future Girl is clever, complex and generous. Asphyxia effortlessly depicts the dystopia using diary entries, collage and infographics. Although Piper’s Deafness is central to her identity, it isn’t the sole focus of the book—acting as a gentle reminder that a person isn’t defined by one thing. This book is art activism—a call for community and connection when we desperately need it.
Bec Kavanagh is a Melbourne writer and academic and the schools programmer at the Wheeler Centre.