Ask the Passengers - YA Review by Ellen P

Reader: Ellen P
Age: 15
Title: Ask the Passengers
Author: A.S. King
Publisher: Little, Brown Books
Pub Date: 10/23/12
Galley: No
Top 25: Yes
Convince us to read the book: I think that this book had one of the strongest and most realistic voices I've read in a long time. The main character and her inner feelings and confusion was really well fleshed out and developed through the story. Other, minor characters were also brought to life fully, and the characters you began to dislike were revealed to be far more complex than you wanted to believe. Basically, though there are many conflicts in this story, none of the characters is clearly bad or good, and King avoids painting moral and ethical questions in black and white. The setting, rural Pennsylvania, worked well because it was not full of any specific regional details. I feel like I've seen this town, and so I can identify with Astrid's feelings about living there.
Memorable or Forgettable: First, this book breaks some molds of GLBT fiction. Sure, Astrid's questioning of her sexuality was the basis of the plot, but it wasn't a book about lesbians. It was a book about teenagers and growing up and family, and what all those things mean. Astrid's romantic and platonic relationships were, to me, less interesting than her struggles with family and the way philosophy was integrated into her story. Sometimes when a class in school is used to connect with a protagonist's struggles, a story becomes predictable and tiresome, but Astrid's connection with Socrates fit perfectly and seamlessly into the story. Her family was fascinating and unpredictable. And finally, the airplane passengers who she sends her love to were themselves fleshed out characters. A.S. King, share your secrets. These characters are Awesome. I sat down with this book and started it, and after every chapter I tried to put it down and failed. Miserably. Go read it, when you have a couple hours to get completely immersed.
Cover: I love love love this cover. Everything about it is beautiful. Usually I shy away from books that use models on the cover, but the camera spots blur out the model enough to give an idea of a person and not put an image of Astrid in readers minds before they open the book. The white is really clean and I just adore the color scheme over all. Seeing this on a shelf, I would absolutely pick it up.
Age Range: 14 through 18 and up
Quality: 5Q Hard to imagine a better book
Popularity: 5P Everyone wants to read it
Annotation: Astrid Jones doesn't know who to talk to. Not her dysfunctional parents, her distant sister, her maybe girlfriend, or her friends. So she sends her love and her questions up to the passengers in the planes flying overhead.

tags:  GLBTQ / coming of age / ya lit

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