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Ask the Passengers by A.S. King

Ask the Passengers (edition 2012)

by A.S. King

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4373724,058 (3.97)1 / 7
Title:Ask the Passengers
Authors:A.S. King
Info:Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (2012), Hardcover, 304 pages
Collections:Your library
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 37 (next | show all)
This is one of the few AS King books I haven’t read and I was excited to finally pick it up to read. It ended up being a very engaging book but didn’t have as much magical realism as King’s other books have had.

I listened to this on audiobook and the audiobook was very well done. The narrator sounded exactly like I imagined the main character would sound and did a good job of conveying emotion.

Astrid Jones has a secret; she is in love with a girl she works with. They steal secret kisses in the freezer room and secret moments by the lake. Astrid wants to confide in someone; but her mom is too pushy, and her constantly stoned dad isn’t interested. Her best friend, who is also gay, wants to put Astrid in a neatly labeled gay box. Astrid doesn’t know if she is gay or if she just happens to be in love with a girl and she is struggling. To cope she goes and lays out on a picnic table in her backyard and sends her love to the passengers that fly over her in airplanes.

This story has a lot of interesting elements to it. Astrid lives in a small town and moved there from New York City. She is adjusting to the small town vibe and with how vicious rumors are in that setting.

Astrid is also really into philosophy and is taking a honors humanities course; to help her cope with all the pain and trouble around her she’s made herself an imaginary friend name Frank Socrates that she can talk to.

When Astrid sends her love to the passengers in the plane we occasionally get a glimpse into one of the passengers lives and what they are dealing with. This was interesting and I was impressed with how quickly I became engaged with these airplane passengers’ stories and wanted to know more about them.

As with other of King’s novels there is a bit of magical realism. When Astrid sends her love to a passenger the passenger actually seems to be affected by her questions/love/concern in some way. Also Astrid seems to see Frank Socrates hanging around sometimes (although she admits he is in her imagination).

Mostly though this story is about society and definition and expectations of society. It’s about how much people need labels and boxes to make themselves feel in control. It’s also about a teenage girl who is struggling to figure out what it means to be gay and what it means to be in love.

Overall this was another incredibly well done AS King novel that breaches a number of societal questions while providing an engaging story with a heroine you really care about. I continue to be impressed with how much King can pack into a story and with how much these books leave me to think about. The story and characters are completely engaging and very hard to put down. I would highly recommend everyone read this book. We can all stand to learn more about tolerance and equality. ( )
  krau0098 | Nov 2, 2015 |
  Bookman1954 | Oct 23, 2015 |
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 |
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"Question everything."
- Euripides

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

"Know thyself."
Ancient Greek Aphorism
First words
Every airplane, no matter how far it is up there, I send love to it.
Last words
Disambiguation notice
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Wikipedia in English


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)

(summary from another edition)

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Average: (3.97)
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2 5
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3.5 12
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