Ask the Passengers by A.S. King
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Astrid Jones desperately wants to confide in someone, but her mother’s pushiness and her father’s lack of interest tell her they’re the last people she can trust. Instead, Astrid spends hours lying on the backyard picnic table watching airplanes fly overhead. She doesn’t know the passengers inside, but they’re the only people who won’t judge her when she asks them her most personal questions . . . like what it means that she’s falling in love with a girl.
As her secret relationship becomes more intense and her friends demand answers, Astrid has nowhere left to turn. She can’t share the truth with anyone except the people at thirty thousand feet, and they don’t even know she’s there. But little does Astrid know just how much even the tiniest connection will affect these strangers’ lives–and her own–for the better.
In this truly original portrayal of a girl struggling to break free of society’s definitions, Printz Honor author A.S. King asks readers to question everything–and offers hope to those who will never stop seeking real love.
In 2013, at the recommendation of Andrew Smith, I read A.S. King’s new release, Reality Boy, and was absolutely blown away by it. When I received a ton of Barnes and Noble gift cards for Christmas like I always do, I was wondering the book store and saw this book. I knew that this book was going to be a good one, based on the amazingness that was Reality Boy.
What I really loved the most about the story is that while it follows the typical path of a coming-of-age story, especially that of someone struggling with their sexual identity, its also unique too. Astrid is really confused, in that she doesn’t really know if she’s gay. She knows she likes girls, one in particular. In fact, she’s in love with that girl. But she doesn’t know if that defines her as gay. Her reluctance to label herself is fantastic. She doesn’t want to feel constricted by labels, or by the idea that she has to choose a gender. This felt so incredibly close to my heart. The idea is that she’s in love with a girl, she finds other girls attractive but she can’t rule out that she wouldn’t fall in love with a boy. I think that’s a beautiful thing. I’m madly in love with my boyfriend who is, obviously, a boy but I could never rule out a girl. Its not about gender, its about people. I think AS King really tackles that in this novel.
I also like the relationships between child and parent that she writes about in her novels. The one in Reality Boy made me feel sick to my stomach, and the relationship between America and her mother was so visceral and so real and so heartbreaking to me. It wasn’t abusive, like the relationship between Gerald and his mother in Reality Boy, but its neglecting and its hard for me to deal with. That’s how well that she writes these kind of relationships. They feel SO incredibly real. Everything she writes is written with such honesty and realism and its the kind of writing that makes the story stick with her.
The thing that really gets me about this story is that you could write it off as just another “gay story”, or whatever, but its not like that. Its so very real, and I think a lot of kids and teenagers and hell, even some adults go through this kind of confusion. The fact that Astrid doesn’t feel the need to define herself, and that she’s going to love who she loves, labels or not, is beautiful and its a truly wonderful story. I think so many people could relate to Astrid, not just because of her struggle with her sexual identity but her struggle just to figure herself and feel important in her own home.
This story is addicting and compelling and deserving of every accolade bestowed upon it. A.S. King is two for two for me, and I am truly impressed with her novels. She is an incredible writer and a great storyteller. She really gets contemporary young adult literature, and I think even adults that are wary of YA would love her novels. She writes SO well. Ask the Passengers is on its way of being one of my favorites that I’ve read this year…and its only the fourth day of the year. Keep that in mind :)
5 out of 5 stars
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