Ask the Passengers by A.S. King

askI really liked Everybody Sees the Ants, so when I saw this on display on the new YA book shelf I picked it up.  Like Ants I thought this was really well written.  (I didn’t like it quite as much though.) Astrid Jones lives in small town called Unity Valley.  It’s not even a symbolic town name as there is nothing subtle about the fact that this is a small town that values conformity.  Astrid has never been crazy about living there (her parents moved her and her sister Ellis there because they thought it a better place to raise children than the city) but now that she’s been secretly dating a girl and thinks she is gay she finds it even worse. On top of that her family has really fallen to pieces. Her dad doesn’t work much and is stoned most of the time, and her sister and mom seem to have their own exclusive clique.  Her mom was such a terrible person that I found her a bit preposterous. I mean, she was really awful to everyone and I found it hard to believe anyone would behave the way she did.

So, given all that, Astrid spends a lot of her free time lying on a picnic table staring up at the sky. Whenever she sees a plane she sends all of her love up to it. She figures she really doesn’t have need of it here at home, so she freely gives it away.  It’s a way for her to keep her sanity. This was a part of the story I really liked.  There are several small chapters where you read about a character on an airplane who is the recipient of that love soaring through the atmosphere and what effect it has. I thought that was a neat aspect.

I also liked Astrid’s relationship with Dee. They’ve been going out for a while and Dee is pushing for a lot more sex than Astrid is ready to give.  Dee has been out for a while and wishes that Astrid would hurry up and come out so they could date more publicly.  Curiously, Astrid’s best friend is gay and involves Astrid in covering up for her.

So there are secrets and sexuality issues abounding in Astrid’s friends and family and self and when those secrets start to come out things fall apart even more.

I think I would have liked this even more has Astrid’s mother not been so unbelievable to me.


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