Review: Touch

“Visually and audibly, the world of today was designed to distract. Before you could give a name to your own feelings, there was something telling you what to think and want,” – Courtney Maum 


 

Touch by Courtney Maum
320 pages
Genre: Fiction
Published by G.P. Putnam and Sons, 2017
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Re-readability: I’ll definitely read this one again.
Reviewed by Indiana
Spoiler-free review 


Sometimes it seems like we’re more intimate with our phones or with our tablets then we are with our loved ones. We can get into bed so easily with our phones and spend hours scrolling, swiping, or watching something stupid.

It’s comfortable. But do we have that same ease with other people?

Touch plays off that question and the many other questions that our increasing smartphone dependency does to us as a society.

Meet Sloane, the trend forecaster who has been on top of her game since before she could remember. She perceives how the world is going to change well before it even changes and she gets paid a frightening amount of money to tell companies what to do with these upcoming changes.

Then there’s her longtime boyfriend, Roman Bellard, who, as a French neo-sensualist, is part of the so-called changing world philosophy. He believes that the death of penetrative sex is nigh and that the world will find sex through virtual reality a much better alternative because they can live out whatever fantasy they’d like time after time.

Sloane is hired by Mammoth, a large tech company in New York City, to help them design technologies around the idea that people will no longer want to have children. It’s a viewpoint that Sloane can understand at first: with the rise in unemployment, the high cost of college tuition, and food prices on the rise, having children just seems like it would be financially impossible.

So, at first it seems like everything should fit together quite well. Roman’s views, her new job, etc.

Yet, Sloane becomes torn, when she realizes that the premise of the argument is not quite right.

She finds herself missing actual sex and feeling distant from Roman. Then, she’s confronted with family problems that she’s long brushed off and turned away from. It seems like they’ve all but given up on her in some ways, given up on her ever emotionally coming home.

As she becomes more lonely and begins to realize the importance of having physical and emotional connections with others, Sloane isn’t quite sure what to do with her job, her family and with her love life (which only gets more complicated when Roman publishes an op-ed in the New York Times about how freeing and wonderful it is to not have penetrative sex, telling essentially the entire world about their love life, or lack thereof).

Touch was more than I’d hoped for in every way. I expected simply a fun read mixed with a little bit of commentary on social media. But it’s really about much more than that. It’s a commentary on some of the simplest parts of being a human, loving and connecting with others, and the ways in which we’re letting that slip away the more we rely solely on our screens for communication, for emotional support, and, in some ways, for love.

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