- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 6, 2017

“Touch” (G.P. Putnam’s Sons), by Courtney Maum

We live in a generation where we view the world through a screen. Most of our professional and social lives are dominated by a laptop, smartphone, digital tablet, or high-definition television. In her novel “Touch,” Courtney Maum considers a time in the not-so-distance future where communicating through Wi-Fi and Bluetooth takes a backseat to the physical need for human contact.

Sloane Jacobsen is the reason people “swipe.” She forecast the digital wave of non-stop communication well before the world caught on. As a global trendsetter, a wide array of companies often hire Sloane to help them navigate the next big thing. Whether it’s fashion, lifestyle, or gadgets, Sloane’s curious premonitions help her to correctly target which direction the market is going to swing.

When Sloane predicts that having children will soon be considered an indulgence, global tech giant Mammoth hires her to help market their products to a “childless” community. Sloane attacks the project from all angles with several in-house brainstorming sessions. She even implements an anonymous idea box.

Sloane soon realizes that even though employees appear to be enthusiastic about technology, many long for something more personal. Something as simple as a hug. She must make a decision. Will her boss be angry at her sudden flipped strategy that forecasts the merchandise his company produces will be trumped by compassion? To make matters worse, Sloane’s boyfriend, who was also hired by her boss, is about to publish an op-ed piece directly contradicting her informal findings. Which direction will the campaign go?

“Touch” is an interesting take on what life would be like if we just put down our phones and stepped away from the computer. Maum reminds us to not forget about those who are living and breathing right around us. Because a loving hug, tight squeeze, or simple touch is so much more fulfilling than a text.

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