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Book cover for ASK THE PASSENGERS by A.S. King

Book cover for ASK THE PASSENGERS by A.S. King

BOOK JACKET BLURB: 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 realize 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.

Published by Little, Brown and Company, 2012, $17.99
304 pages
Release date: October 23, 2013
ISBN: 9780316194686
Audio book read by Devon Sorvari
Release date: October 12, 2012 (Random House)
ISBN: 978-0-449-01510-0
Agent: Michael Bourret, Dystel & Goderich Literary Management

AWARDS:

Los Angeles Times Book Award, Young Adult Literature, 2012

EMERT’S NOTES:

Astrid is a senior in high school whose best friend Kristina is lesbian. Astrid is questioning her own sexuality, and has a girlfriend of sorts–hockey-playing Dee Roberts, who is handsy and too forward for Astrid. She has never had a girlfriend before, and she’s hestitant to admit that she is gay, even to herself. Kristina convinces Astrid to go with her and their friend Justin to a gay club. Even though they are underage, they are admitted, and they go several Saturdays in a row.

Astrid’s family has moved to Unity Valley, a small town in Pennsylvania, where her mother, Claire, grew up, from New York City. None of the family has made the transition well, including Astrid’s younger sister, Ellis. Because she feels so alone and unloved (her mother prefers Ellis and her father escapes by smoking pot in the garage), Astrid has created a ritual of sending her love to the anonymous passengers on airplanes flying high overhead as she lies on a picnic table in her backyard. Occasionally, King offers an interlude in which we get to “meet” a passenger from the plane passing over. We get to know a bit about the person who “receives” Astrid’s love. This does not work, I think. Though the people are rather interesting–from a male escort to a teenager being sent to gay conversion therapy camp–their connections to the story are tenuous at best.

Some of the characters are so secondary that they may as well not be included: Justin, for example, oddly appears only occasionally and seems completely inconsequential to the storyline. Astrid’s relationships with everyone in the novel, except her philosophy teacher, Ms. Steck, are strained. King tries to do a lot in this novel, and though it’s a valiant effort, ultimately, she tries to include too much. As it’s written, everything is slightly muddy. We aren’t sure whether there’s something magical going on with the sending love to passengers thing. At first it seems so. But since there’s no real consistency for the timing of the passenger interludes, it becomes increasingly unclear why the reader is treated to the knowledge about the passengers, but Astrid (or any of the other characters) is not. I wanted to like this book more than I did. Many other readers (and critics) disagree with me though. They liked it quite a lot!

SELECTED PRESS:

“Best Books of 2012,” Publishers Weekly

REVIEWS:

Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 2012

Publishers Weekly, September 3, 2012

ReadingEagle.com, November 27, 2012

www.alicemarvels.com, December 6, 2012

Lambda Literary Review, January 1, 2013

The Horn Book, May 1, 2013

AUTHOR’S WEB PRESENCE:

Author’s website: http://www.as-king.com

Facebook: https://twitter.com/AS_King

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AS_King

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