Ask the Passengers by A.S. King
To the passengers of airplanes overheard, Astrid Jones sends her love: “But it feels good to love a thing and not expect anything back. It feels good to not get an argument or any pushiness or any rumors…it’s love without strings. It’s ideal.” – Ask the Passengers, p. 18
About: 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. – Provided by publisher
Why I loved this book:From the first page of Ask the Passengers, I was hooked. The voice of the protagonist, Astrid Jones, and her quirky habit of sending love to strangers is a poignant, touching element rare in literature and even rarer in the world outside literature:
“Every airplane, no matter how far it is up there, I send love to it.…
It’s a good game because I can’t lose.
I do it everywhere now.
I don’t care if they love me back.
This isn’t reciprocal.
It’s an outpouring.
Because if I give it all away, then no one can control it.
Because if I give it all away, I’ll be free.”
(Ask the Passengers, p.1)
The beauty of Astrid sending out love to those around her is only enhanced when we learn that Astrid is one of two children in a dysfunctional, disconnected household where she feels unloved. To make matters worse, the ever-present difficulty of every teen to establish their identity is weighing heavily on Astrid as she struggles to determine her sexual orientation.
King sheds light on the heart of someone questioning in a way that illuminates the issue of homosexuality without making a spectacle of it. She beautifully weaves in internal dialogue and raw moments where you feel as if you see the heart of Astrid displayed on her sleeve. Astrid is a thinker, a philosopher, who questions the motives of herself and those around her in a way that’s insightful yet relatable for teens and adults alike. As you experience Astrid’s intermittent clarity and confusion in turn throughout the story, you deeply feel for her and all the while want to give her a hug or a slap, you never can decide. To engage a reader so thoroughly is a triumph by King, for sure.
At the end of the story, I felt filled with hope for Astrid and for the world around us that struggles to move forward in a positive way but not always sure how to do so. Ask the Passengers makes you feel like that’s okay. That maybe we don’t always have the right answers or solutions, but loving each other despite the unknowing is what will carry us through.
Check out this sweet book talk for Ask the Passengers:
Don’t forget to grab another A.S. King book when you finish Ask the Passengers!
Reviewed by Lindsay