12 May 2014

Ask the Passengers by A.S. King

“Hold on. You’re not an androgynous bookworm?” she asks, 
and pulls out her phone. “Shit. I need to update my files.”


by A.S. King
Published October 2012 by Little, Brown
YA Contemporary - Hardcover, 304p.


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.


A few years ago, I read Please Ignore Vera Dietz and said it was one of the best books I've ever read and I stand by that. A.S. King is an auto-buy author for me, and ASK THE PASSENGERS only re-confirms that. When I want contemporary YA that will make me think, and struggle with emotions, and latch onto and love a flawed character, I pick up an A.S. King book.

In ASK THE PASSENGERS, Astrid struggles with her identity, being true to what she feels, and how to share herself with the world. She's coming to terms with her sexuality and dealing with a dysfunctional family on top of the usual teenaged high school troubles. She spends a lot of time lying on the picnic table in her backyard sending her love to the passengers of planes as they fly by overhead. The book jumps into the planes for a quick glimpse into different passengers' lives, which sounds like it might be distracting and pull the reader out of the story, but it's actually done really well. The connections made between Astrid and her struggles, and the passengers to whom she sends her love, are interesting, sometimes poignant, and add an extra dimension to the story.

Astrid's family is odd, and yet it's basically reflective of how every family has its own issues and ways of dealing with things. Her mom talks at her, her dad is pretty checked out, and her younger sister is reputation-obsessed. She struggles to find anyone to confide in and uses her time sending love up to the passengers above as a way to cope with what she's going through.

ASK THE PASSENGERS is as fantastically written as one expects an A.S. King novel to be and will take you through feeling both hopeless and hopeful, and wishing you could help Astrid out. The only problem with the book is it makes you remember you'll have to wait a while before the author's next is available (Glory O'Brien's History of the Future -- October 2014).

GET THE BOOK: Goodreads | Amazon | IndieBound