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.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2012-09-03
- Reviewer: Staff
The philosophical searching, surprising spiritual guides, and powerful observations of contemporary life that characterize previous works by King (Everybody Sees the Ants) are in full evidence in a story that’s at once much more than a coming-out novel and one of the best coming-out novels in years. High school senior Astrid Jones moved from New York City to Unity Valley, Pa., with her family years ago, but it still doesn’t feel like home. Astrid isn’t comfortable labeling herself gay (“I’m not in this to be a member of some club. I’m not going through this so I can lock myself in the one of them box”), and the community’s homophobia and aggressive rumor mill weigh heavily on her. When several secrets become public, Astrid’s relationships are further strained, and she copes by silently sending love to the passengers of airplanes flying overhead (whose brief stories indicate they can sense Astrid’s questions and feel the love she unleashes) and carrying on imaginary conversations with Socrates. Funny, provocative, and intelligent, King’s story celebrates love in all of its messy, modern complexity. Ages 15–up. Agent: Michael Bourret, Dystel & Goderich Literary Management. (Oct.)
Sharing secrets with only strangers
In the second decade of the 21st century, some might argue that there shouldn’t be a need for young adult novels exploring the angst and liberation of coming out as gay. However, as long as teens still seem deeply in need of initiatives like the “It Gets Better” project, novels like Ask the Passengers—especially one as compassionate and complex as this one—will be essential reading for all people, regardless of how they label themselves.
Astrid Jones is a senior in high school, a brainy, wordy girl whose favorite hobby is lying on the backyard picnic table, sending her love to the airplane passengers overhead: “It feels good to love a thing and not expect anything back,” she thinks. Astrid and her family have recently moved from New York City to a small town in Pennsylvania, where they may always seem like outsiders and a “fog of gossip” seems to surround everything they do.
Keeping secrets is hard in a small town, and Astrid has plenty—both her own and other people’s. When Astrid’s secret comes to light, she must decide whether and how to start telling the truth, and to whom. Like A.S. King’s previous novels, Ask the Passengers can hardly be considered a “problem novel”; instead, it perfectly blends philosophy, emotion and even a little magical realism in a smart, sympathetic story that is as relevant and compelling as ever.