Glory O'Brien's History of the Future

Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future


Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future
by A. S. King


Glory O'Brien's History of the Future


Publishing Information: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2014
ISBN: 9780316222723

Pages: 320 p.
Ages: 14+


Annotation: Glory is getting ready to graduate from high school, but has no idea what to do next.  Glory and her best friend, Ellie, start seeing visions of pasts and futures of the people around them and the future isn’t good.  They both have to decide what their own futures hold.


Graduating from high school is usually a time of limitless possibilities—but not for Glory. She's never stopped wondering if her mother’s suicide will lead her to end her own life someday, as statistics would predict. But everything changes after a transformative night when she gains the power to see anyone’s infinite past and future. And what she sees ahead for humanity is terrifying.
Glory makes it her mission to record everything that’s coming, hoping her notes will somehow make a difference. She may not see a future for herself, but she'll do anything to make sure this one doesn't come to pass.
With astonishing insight and arresting vision, Printz Honor author A.S. King tells the epic story of a girl coping with devastating loss at long last—a girl who has no idea that the future needs her, and that the present needs her even more. (from the author’s website)


Book Talk:  Do you ever wonder what the future holds for you?  Do you wish you could see other people’s futures?  Glory can.  One sip of a desiccated bat and her life has changed completely.  But now what is she going to do about it?


Subject Headings & Major Themes: Clairvoyance

                        Best Friends


                        Fathers and Daughters


                        Survivors of Suicide victims


                        Magical Realism


Booklist, September 15, 2014, p. 55 *Starred Review

Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 2014. p. 98 *Starred Review

Publishers Weekly, August 18, 2014, p. 78 *Starred Review

School Library Journal, September 1, 2014, p. 146 *Starred Review

Voice of Youth Advocates, December 2014, p. 63

NY Times Book Review, December 21, 2014, p. BR23


Discussion Questions and Ideas:

  1. Darla O’Brien has been dead for 14 years. Why is she still the most important person in the lives of Glory and her father? Should she be?

  2. A quote from the poet Walt Whitman begins the novel: “The future is no more uncertain than the present.” What does Whitman mean by that? Do you agree with him? Why do you think the author opened her book this way?

  3. Photographic terms, Glory discovers, can also be applied to real life. What does “max black” mean for pictures, and for people? What does it mean for a photo, and for a person, to be exposed but not developed?

  4. “The Origin of Everything” is the name Glory gives to her sketchbook. Why do you think she chose such an ambitious title? Is she being serious? Sarcastic? What is the purpose of Glory’s sketchbook?

  5. “Why People Take Pictures” was the title of Darla O’Brien’s sketchbook. Why did Darla O’Brien take pictures? Why does Glory? Why do you?

  6. “Complicated” is how Glory describes her friendship with Ellie (page 2). How is that an understatement? What does Glory like about Ellie? What does she dislike? At the end of the novel, why does she give Ellie such a generous gift? What do you think Ellie will do with it?

  7. Petrified bat juice isn’t anyone’s idea of a treat, so why do Glory and Ellie drink it? What drew them to the dead bat in the first place? What makes them think the bat might be God?

  8. Can you draw any parallels between the capabilities of bats and the powers that Glory and Ellie gain?

  9. “Free yourself,” Ellie says on the night they drink the bat juice (page 51). “Have the courage.” What does Glory need to free herself from? What about Ellie? Does each find the courage? Why or why not?

  10. Ellie’s mother tried to keep her daughter away from popular culture, but according to Glory (page 41), “Ellie knew what all girls knew—we were here to be whatever men wanted us to be.” Do you agree? What makes it difficult for a young woman to be who she wants to be, not what some men may expect her to be?

  11. Glory envisions a second American Civil War, the result of deep divisions within the country about the role of women. How divided do you think America is right now? How deep are regional differences about women’s rights? How plausible do you find Glory’s vision of the future?

  12. Why do you think Darla O’Brien killed herself? What role did her husband play in her unhappiness? Her neighbor? Her daughter? Her gender? Her photography?

  13. Why is Peter smiling at strangers in the mall? How does Glory’s reaction to his experiment change both of their lives?

  14. “I didn’t know how to have fun,” Glory claims at the start of her surprise party (page 254), yet she does have fun. How does the party affect her opinion of her classmates? Her aunt? Herself?

  15. By the novel’s end, Glory is convinced that her transmissions from the past and the future were true. What is her proof? Do you agree? What else might explain her visions?

  16. Why is Glory writing “Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future”? Who is she writing it for? How does she become the hero of her story?

(from Educator’s Guide published by HBGUSA)


Related Websites: 
Publisher’s website:

Author’s Website:

Educator’s Guide:



The Glow Stone by Ellen Dreyer

A Girl Called Fearless by Catherine Linka

The Island of Excess Love by Francesca Lia Block

Every Day by David Levithan (2012)

City of the Beasts by Isabel Allende (2002)

Green Angel by Alice Hoffman (2003)

Keeper by Mal Peet (2003)

Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block (1989)

Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer (2014)

Dope Sick by Walter Dean Myers (2009)

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton (2014)

Other Work by the Authors:

The Dust of 100 Dogs (Feb. 2009)

Please Ignore Vera Dietz (Oct. 2010)

Everybody Sees the Ants (Oct. 2011)

Ask the Passengers (Oct. 2012)

Reality Boy (Oct. 2013)


About the Authors: 
A.S. King is the author of the highly acclaimed Reality Boy; Ask the Passengers, a Los Angeles Times Book Prize winner; Everybody Sees the Ants; and the Edgar Award nominated, Michael L. Printz Honor book Please Ignore Vera Dietz. She is also the author of The Dust of 100 Dogs, an ALA Best Book for Young Adults. When asked about her writing, King says, "Some people don't know if my characters are crazy or if they are experiencing something magical. I think that's an accurate description of how I feel every day." She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and children.  (from the publisher’s website)