Friday, October 12, 2012
Teen Review: Ask the Passengers by A.S. King
Have you had the chance to read A.S. King's newest title, Ask The Passengers (Check out our first post here)? Our teen reader, Libby, did and took this fantastic picture. We think it could easily be Astrid. Here is Libby's review to go along with it:
A. S. King’s Ask the Passengers was sold to me as a book about a girl who likes to lay on a picnic table in her backyard and send love to the airplanes overhead. I don’t think that’s quite an accurate description.
Astrid Jones is an NYC transplant living in small-town Unity Valley. Her mom is an agoraphobe who dresses like a big city professional and uses words like “aubergine” when referring to dinner, but never leaves the house. Her dad can’t hold a job and smokes a lot of pot. Her sister is a somewhat obnoxious jock who happens to fit right in with the other Unity Valley girls, and her best friend is one half of her school’s power couple. Astrid is not entirely sure where she fits in all of this. She loves her philosophy class, and wishes her family could move back to New York so she wouldn’t feel so isolated.
Astrid is very good at keeping secrets. She doesn’t tell anyone that she knows her mom likes her sister better or that her friends, the power couple, Kristina and Chad, are both in secret gay relationships. She doesn’t tell anyone that maybe she is also dating Dee, a girl she works with. The secrets bother her, so she goes outside and lays down on a picnic table and shares secrets with the airplanes flying overhead. She sends her love too, because she doesn’t see any use for it in Unity Valley. It is her way of dealing with stress. To give her a break, the story is interspersed with short vignettes about the passengers and how Astrid’s love affects them.
This is a character book more than a plot book. There is a plot, and there is plenty of drama and romance, but it isn’t the most important part of the story. The real story is in Astrid’s search for identity and her refusal to let other people classify her. She makes her intentions and her boundaries very clear and follows through with them, even when other people pressure her. Astrid does not put herself in a box, and she doesn’t let anybody else do it either. She takes control of the situation and lets others define her only by the labels she chooses. When she gets caught underage in a gay club, the small-town gossip system immediately labels her as gay, and then tries to figure out who she went with. Her mother tells her she should just tell her family she likes girls and stop being dramatic or indecisive. Astrid takes control of the situation by waiting until she is sure of her identity and then coming out. Astrid also takes control of her life in her relationship with Dee. When Dee pressures Astrid to be more physical, Astrid counters with a codeword for when she is okay with it and when she is not.
Ask the Passengers was excellently written and I really enjoyed it. Check it out!