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Ask the Passengers by A.S. King
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Ask the Passengers (edition 2012)

by A.S. King

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4003527,024 (3.99)5
Member:sparklecookie
Title:Ask the Passengers
Authors:A.S. King
Info:Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (2012), Hardcover, 304 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****1/2
Tags:girl, seventeen, love, lesbian, gay best friend, coming out, high school, bullying, parents, family, sister, philosophy

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Ask The Passengers by A.S. King

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Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
Astrid Jones doesn't have a perfect life. Her mother - who has 'Mommy and Me' nights with Astrid's 16-year-old sister - all but ignores when she isn't trying to construct a new social life for her. Her father's present, but really only in the physical sense. Her sister, Ellis, quit being a friend a long time ago, now more their mom's confidant than Astrid's.

Her friends are her refuge from this crazy family life, but she's keeping a secret - a big secret - from even them.

Passengers it planes flying by overhead are the only ones who don't prod and ask Astrid questions, questions she doesn't want to answer. She sends each of them her love, even if the tiny action may never make a difference to anyone but her.


Ask the Passengers is a really good contemporary read. Astrid is not a teenager who has everything figured out - neither, actually, is any of the other characters in the novel. They have complications in their lives, things they are struggling to figure out, interpersonal issues with both family and friends, and/or internal struggles. The characters don't come across as burdened by these problems, rather it makes them feel real.

Astrid's mother is a great - and memorable - character. She's quite different from other mothers in other YA, or adult, books I've previously read. Her way of both butting into Astrid's life while still ignoring Astrid, personally was odd as a character trait, but written in a way where it made sense. It also made you feel for Astrid - and for Ellis, actually - for having Claire as a mother. Astrid was dealing with so much, questioning so much and then didn't have her mother to turn to.

It made the Passengers part of Ask the Passengers both very fitting and more fun to read. After Astrid would ask the passengers her questions, there were small chapters/interludes from passengers on the planes. Little glimpses into their lives.

While I really enjoyed the different characters in this book, the difficulties they had, the way they were working to overcome them - or at times putting that off - something didn't quite work for me. I don't know if Ask the Passengers just didn't click with me or if it wasn't quite what I was looking for, but something kept it from being a really great read from me, keeping it just really good. I liked it, but it didn't amaze me. I'm sorry that I can't pinpoint why.

edit: Now that it's the release date and I have access to the audio book, I've given that a try - and it worked much better for me. I think, for whatever reason the actual reading reading of this novel was slower for me but listening to it helped the pacing of the story. It also helped my enjoyment of the story. I'll keep my rating at a 7 as that's for the original review, but the audio version did bump up my enjoyment of the story.


Rating: 7/10
  BookSpot | May 18, 2015 |
This is one of the few young adult books that I have truly enjoyed as of late. I has happy to read a book that really delved into an issue that many young people have today, which is, what happens when I start falling for someone of the same sex? This question becomes an even bigger issue when living in a small town.

King's depiction of small town living is very realistic. Having lived in a small town in high school, but not necessarily being a small town girl, I could identify with how Astrid felt about those around her and the town in general. I found that the way she depicted small town thinking and gossip to the actual reality of a situation was accurate.

In general, I thought that Astrid was a really interesting and highly relateable character. Her voice was mature, but not unrealistically so. Her feelings are totally understandable, and not once did I feel like she was thinking or doing something uncharacteristic of a teenage girl.

What I was truly impressed by in this book was how King not only depicted the feelings of small town people about homosexuality (the scandel!), but she also showed us that even those who call themselves allies (or as Astrid ironically calls her mother, Friend of the Gays, or GOTG) can sometimes fall into the pit of ignorance and intolerance. While Astrid's mother claims that she is an ally, she becomes worried when rumors of Astrid's sister's sexuality start flying and is insulted by the allegation. This occurs again later when Astrid gets busted at a gay bar, and somehow, getting caught at a gay bar was worse than getting caught in a regular bar. I'm glad that King was able to convincingly and subtly show how even those who claim to be open-minded about sexuality can hold similar prejudices as those less open-minded.

I also appreciated how Astrid struggled with the fact that everyone around her, including her friends, were pushing her to label herself and come out to her family. Really all Astrid wanted, and needed, was some time to figure out how she felt about her girlfriend and her sexuality. I felt that this rings true for many teens who are just trying to make sense of what they feel. Emotions get complicated, and I thought that King did a great job of depicting how difficult it can be to sort through those emotions when you are feeling pressure from those around you to make-up your mind, so to speak.

This book felt real to me, and I believe that King did a great job of really getting into the head of teenage girl who just wants to love her girlfriend and do away with the pressure that society tries to put on her. Ask the Passengers is a great read, and I hope that books with LGBTQ main characters will gain the attention that they deserve and become less uncommon than they are currently. ( )
  kell1732 | Jan 25, 2015 |
3.5 stars - there are some things that I really like about this book: the interactions between Astrid and the plane passengers is clever, the relationships between Astrid and her contemporaries are believable and well developed, and the discussions between Astrid and Dee about their relationship and when sex should be added are laudable especially for teen fiction. But the family aspects of Astrid's life, written as cliches of out of touch parents and a goody two shoed sister, somehow resolve into a perfect family once Astrid can admit who she is. This was a little too neatly and inexplicably resolved after all the build up. Overall, I like King's writing style, and will read more, but the end was a bit of a let down. ( )
  asawyer | Dec 31, 2014 |
Astrid Jones is a keeper of secrets, and we all know that secrets are better when shared. But her mother is beyond pushy and favors her sister, and her father shows no interest in her, as he's more interested in the pot he smokes. Astrid knows, of all people, she can’t trust them with this. They've uprooted the family from New York City to a small town ironically named Unity Valley where people have a distrust of anything or anyone different. Living here is brutal – because everyone has an opinion about everyone else.

Like other A.S. King books (she's recently become one of my new favorite authors), there is a bit of magical realism as Astrid sends her love to the passengers in the planes flying overhead and has conversations with Socrates, whom she nicknames Frank.

This book shows how different we are in our minds from our outside appearances, how there is always so much more to other people’s lives than we can possibly know. The pressure to conform is HUGE, and Astrid is a strong character that shows how it’s possible to step away from the pressure and define ourselves by our own terms. It was so good, for so many reasons. ( )
  readerspeak | Dec 12, 2014 |
Linda's review on Three Good Rats

Astrid Jones lives in the small (and small-minded), stifling town of Unity Valley, PA, where her family moved from New York when Astrid and her sister Ellis were younger. Ellis does her best to fit in, but Astrid hasn't wanted or been able to do so; she's isolated in her own family, and even keeping a secret from her best friend, Christina. Astrid has begun falling in love with a co-worker, Dee; she isn't 100% sure she's gay, so she doesn't want to tell anyone else, even Christina (who is also gay, but closeted).

The magical element in the book - it's A.S. King, so of course there is one - is that Astrid sends all the extra love she isn't using to the passengers in the planes that fly over her house, and somehow, the passengers receive it: snippets of their stories are interspersed throughout the book.

Astrid's struggle with her own sexual identity and with broader issues of tolerance and acceptance are realistic. In her Humanities class at school, The Socrates Project helps her focus and think more deeply about these issues, including paradoxes such as "Motion is impossible," "Equality is obvious," and "Nobody's perfect." In order to make Socrates feel more familiar, she gives him a first name, Frank, and he pops up as an observer in difficult situations, a la Jiminy Cricket.

The Jones family's move from New York to Unity Valley remains unexplained, other than that Astrid's maternal grandmother's house came on the market, and her mother Claire was feeling sentimental about it. That doesn't seem like enough of a reason to move a whole family, though, especially as none of them seem happy there; Claire doesn't even seem to leave the house, though she's perpetually concerned about the family's reputation. She's cold to Astrid, contemptuous of her husband, and dotes (in a controlling way) on Ellis, who feels she has to be perfect. I wish the move had been better explained, so perhaps I could have some empathy for Claire, but as it is, she's pretty unsympathetic.

p. 204 I'm exhausted by them. I'm exhausted by me. I'm exhausted by having to be me, with them. ( )
  JennyArch | Nov 19, 2014 |
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Epigraph
"Question everything."
- Euripides

"The only true wisdom is knowing that you know nothing."
-Socrates

"Know thyself."
Ancient Greek Aphorism
Dedication
First words
Every airplane, no matter how far it is up there, I send love to it.
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Book description
Astrid Jones, who realizes that she is a lesbian, deals with the gossip and rejection she faces by sending love up to the people on airplanes as they pass over her.
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"Astrid Jones copes with her small town's gossip and narrow-mindedness by staring at the sky and imagining that she's sending love to the passengers in the airplanes flying high over her backyard. Maybe they'll know what to do with it. Maybe it'll make them happy. Maybe they'll need it. Her mother doesn't want it, her father's always stoned, her perfect sister's too busy trying to fit in, and the people in her small town would never allow her to love the person she really wants to: another girl named Dee. There's no one Astrid feels she can talk to about this deep secret or the profound questions that she's trying to answer. But little does she know just how much sending her love--and asking the right questions--will affect the passengers' lives, and her own, for the better"--… (more)

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