Ask the Passengers - YA Review by Elise

Reader: Elise S
Age: 16
Title: Ask the Passengers
Author: A.S. King
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Pub Date: 10/23/12
Galley: Yes
Top 25: Yes
Convince us to read the book: There are many reasons I read books, but the biggest one is that sometimes I find stories like this one.  So many people ask us, as teens, to define what's hot for teens, what's next, what do TEENS want to read?  Answer: teens want to read about people.  Not all the same person, but real, live people who ask questions about themselves and the world, who think about issues, who breathe and eat and yell and laugh.  People like Astrid Jones, and wildly different than Astrid Jones.  Vampires?  Sure.  Wizards?  Why not.  Girls sending love to airplanes and figuring out who they are?  Absolutely.  A.S. King's secret is that she captures a whole human in all of the crazy, messed up glory in her book.  How could you not read a book about yourself?
Memorable or Forgettable: Needless to say, I am a huge fan.  Besides her sparkling and vivid characters, King weaves in rich background, setting, and a well paced plot.  Characters were created and interacted with such ease that I was convinced.  There were a lot of characters too.  Some we only knew for a paragraph, but for that paragraph we knew their story and their worries.  The characters that stuck around really showed themselves, too.  There were no static people in the story, they changed and developed as events unfolded, until the person at the end was not the same person we started with.
     I have one more thing to commend the author on, and this is important.  There are not a huge wealth of books out there about GLBTQ teens.  The ones that I have read have overwhelmingly fit a thin genre.  Realistic fiction, teens struggle to tell parents and friends and find self.  This is an important storyline, but the characters so often fall flat, or stereotype to extremes.  Ask the Passengers did neither.  King told a story about a person who was a person.  This person was working through who they are, like all of us.  And she was lesbian.  But I never felt that King sat down to write a "gay book," and that is an enormous distinction.
Cover: This was a beautiful cover that related to the book just enough.  It caught my attention, and the lines of the photo were very aesthetically arranged.  The one thing I will say is that, as a teen who carries her novels around between school, theater and home in a filthy backpack, the amount of white shows an awful lot of dirt.
Age Range: 12 through 18 and up
Quality: 5Q Hard to imagine a better book
Popularity: 5P Everyone wants to read it
Annotation: The airplane passengers Astrid Jones sends love to don't know who she is, or that she needs someone to talk to.  They don't know that she lives in a small, prejudiced town, or that she is falling in love with girl, or that she can't tell anybody, or that her family is falling apart.  But there you have it.

tags:  GLBTQ / coming of age / ya lit

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