Friday, August 2, 2013

REVIEW: Ask the Passengers by A.S. King

Title: Ask the Passengers
Author: A.S. King Website Twitter Facebook
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: October 23, 2012
Pages: 304
Buy It! amazon
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Summary from Goodreads: 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.

First Thoughts: A book that lives up to its hype! Beautifully written and creatively constructed, while delivering important messages for today’s society. Although it’s about searching for sexual identity, it’s really about breaking out of the norms and boxes society tries to put us in.

Seriously...what a beautiful and moving book. It features so many great messages and poignant moments, and yet, none of them are forced upon the reader; they are effortless. I’m ashamed to say that although I’ve seen her books highly recommended, this is the first A.S. King work I’ve picked up; definitively, though, it won’t be the last.

I can honestly say that I had no idea what this book was about when I started it - it came highly recommended and came in next on my library holds list, so I went with it. When I opened the jacket and read the synopsis, I was a little skeptical. I hate to say it, but sometimes sexual identity books feel preachy or overdramatic, but not this one. The main character, Astrid, is perfect! She is conflicted and yet so absolutely normal that not once did I feel like King was up on a soapbox lecturing on equality and tolerance.

What I love most about Astrid, besides her absolute honesty and relatability, is her ability to question everything and be okay not knowing the answers. She doesn’t know if she’s a lesbian and she doesn’t want to be pressured into a box (I LOVE her list of things that fit into boxes - so true!). As a society, we are always so quick to label things/people and move on, that it was refreshing to read her point of view. Why do people need labels anyway? Being gay or straight doesn’t change who she is as a person, so why should anyone care? What a fantastic message!

Also, I LOVED what A.S. King did with the airplane passengers. Basically, as she sees planes fly overhead, Astrid sends her love to the passengers. Instead of just leaving it at that, an outlet for Astrid, King writes in some of the passengers’ stories. Astrid’s love seems to actually affect some of the passengers, evoking epiphanies and life-altering clarity to their problems. I almost looked forward to their stories more than Astrid’s (not for lack of love of our protagonist, I just found the vignettes so compelling). My favorite passengers were the proposal couple and the brother going home to bury his sister. The emotion and power King managed to pack into a few-page story wowed me. Each story told of forgiveness, love, redemption, etc... There are numerous takeaways from this book, which is always a sign of a great read.

Final Thoughts: Such a beautiful story (I suppose stories, if you think about the passengers’)! I will never look at an airplane the same way again - keep on sending your love Astrid!

Who Should Read It? I, personally, think everyone should read this book, just for the message it delivers. However, readers of contemporary (realistic) fiction and life in high school books will probably get the most enjoyment out of it. Although the concept of sexual identity may be a deterrent for some, it really is about life in general and how we define who we are as individuals. Definitely add this to your to-be-read list.

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