Ask the Passengers by A.S. King

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.

ask

The title of the book stems from Astrid’s practice of expressing herself and sending love to the passengers of overhead planes.  In turn, passengers share their love and lives with the readers. Their stories are interspersed between Astrid’s narration. Astrid herself has some really interesting family dynamics. Astrid’s pot-smoking father, her self-involved, workaholic mother, and insecure younger sister, all play a huge role in the telling of this story.  Throughout the book, Astrid’s connection with Socrates and his philosophical beliefs was a unique element. She begins to imagine him everywhere and nicknames him ‘Frank S’.  She admires him because he ‘rejected all the boxes’ and questioned everything.

However, I question why bisexuality was not further explored.  Astrid questions her sexuality, and when her parents confront her, they urge her to choose a gay or straight box. She comes to realize that we cannot force tidy labels on complex things like sexuality. Sexuality cannot always be simplified. However, in the end, she very loudly comes out as a lesbian.  Why couldn’t she be bisexual? Why did she have to choose?

Overall, I think Ask the Passengers is realistic of a girl struggling with her own sexual identity and the difficulty of coming out to her family, friends, and small town. I have several friends that went through similar situations, and ones that continue to struggle with their sexual identity. Despite the one issue, I think this book would provide comfort to those on a path of self-discovery.

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