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. Astrid can't share the truth with anyone except the people she imagines flying over her 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.
Some books with characters who are questioning their sexuality are incredibly disappointing; the characters end up straight and their questions turn out to be a ploy for LGBTQ readers. But Ask the Passengers was anything but disappointing.
I loved that Astrid ad her girlfriend, Dee, had already been dating for a while. YA likes to focus on the "falling" part of love, and overlooks couples who've been dating for a few months and are just starting to run into their first problems. It was kind of refreshing to see people working at love and mending all its holes, instead of thinking there won't ever be any. Ask the Passengers is a reminder that love isn't straightforward or easy, but it's worth a lot more that way.
Ask the Passengers isn't just a love story, though, and it will get you thinking about a lot. Astrid's character is easy to love, and she's relatable. It's not just gay people or people questioning their sexuality who can relate to her, but people with dysfunctional families, friends, and small-town lives. Anyone grappling with their reputation will be comforted and encouraged by Astrid's story.
My copy of Ask the Passengers is sprouting post-it notes bookmarking highlighted passages and quotes. People like to say that words and stores are powerful, but it's hard to understand that until you've read a book like this one. King's words made me think, and hit home in a way only two or three books have before. I'm probably going to shove this book into the hands of every other person I meet so it can do the same for them. This is a book I will read to my children someday.
Once Upon a Time...
As a longtime lover of stories and a believer in the power and magic of books, I've spent my life seeking out the best reads. This blog is dedicated to reviewing the books I read - good, bad, or magnificent - to help other readers find their next favorite books.