Sometimes you hear about an author over and over again and for some reason are never inspired to pick up their books until much later. I find that usually when I do this, I regret how long it took me to read an author and am so glad I finally did get started. So it is with today’s “What I Just Read”!
What I’m Reading Now: Ask the Passengers by A.S. King
What’s It About (Jacket Description): 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.
Do I Like It: LOVED IT
Thoughts: I wasn’t really sure what to expect from Ask the Passengers when I checked out the audiobook, but this definitely wasn’t quite what I expected. For starters, I was expecting a lot more of Astrid having conversations with the passengers/herself. Really though, what Astrid does at the beginning of the book is just send her love to the passengers on the planes flying overhead. Which admittedly sounds weird, but is also kind of beautiful – she wants to give her love unconditionally to people who don’t expect anything of her, who don’t love her conditionally.
But make no mistake, for all the beauty of sending her love to plane passengers, Astrid is also unapologetically weird and pretty nerdy. She gets a little obsessive about her philosophy class, and plans on becoming an editor someday. In fact, at one point, she corrects the grammar on an extremely mean-spirited sign in school. I kind of love Astrid’s brand of philosophical nerd, the kind that leads her to reject the labels people place on her and question approximately everything anyone tells her.
There’s a lot I could say about this book, but really, it all comes down to Astrid. This book is about how she learns to navigate the world around her, and navigate herself. How she learns to balance the demands placed on her by everyone in her life, including her best friend and her maybe girlfriend. How she figures out who she is, and how she chooses to convey that to the people around her. Her relationships are a hugely important part of that, but just as important is what goes on in Astrid’s head. Now, since this includes conversations with airplane passengers thousands of feet in the air and a personal relationship with Socrates (nicknamed “Frank” to make him more modern), Astrid’s head is a pretty interesting place to be.
This book has family, friendship, romance, school politics, and a thread of magical realism, so there’s a lot there. But ultimately, if you like reading about Astrid, you’ll love this book. And I think Astrid is a fascinating, likeable, relatable character, and I highly recommend you give her – and Ask the Passengers – a chance. As for me, I won’t be waiting long to pick up another book by A.S. King.