Title: Ask The Passengers
Author: A.S. King
Publisher: Little, Brown
Publication Date: October 23, 2012
Source: personal purchase
Summary from Goodreads:
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.
Oh man, I forgot how much I enjoy a really good, fo' serious YA novel. I read a few in the last year or two, and they were okay, but many are so focused on angsty boy-meets-girl plotlines that they felt more like fluff reads than anything else. But then I got my socks knocked off by Laurie Halse Anderson's Wintergirls, so I decided to follow that up with Ask The Passengers. GREAT CHOICE. This is the first time I've read anything by A.S. King, but it certainly won't be the last! And I'm now very excited to meet her at the Rochester Teen Book Festival in May.
I hereby declare that this book should be required reading for adolescents. Not just those that are questioning their sexuality, but ALL teens. Because Astrid goes through some pretty awful bullying as her sexual identity becomes more public. I sometimes lose sight of the fact that not everyone grows up in an area like mine, where views on the LGBTQ lifestyle are generally accepting. (I say generally because...as we all know, there are haters everywhere. Unfortunately.) I had friends that came out in high school, and it didn't create nearly the ripples (more like tidal waves) that Astrid has to face in the close-minded community of Unity Valley. This book is great for any teenager in the midst of their sexual-identity journey, as well as those who want to understand how to better support their friends and family members going through such an exploration.
What makes this stand out in YA LGBTQ literature? Number one is Astrid. She is such a great character. She's often snarky and sarcastic, despite the difficult issues she's constantly facing. Plus, her frank discussions about sexuality are refreshing (and the primary reason why I think all teens should read this). I love her habit of "sending love" to the passengers of airplanes that she sees flying above her. At first, I didn't know what to make of that ritual, but I like how King uses it as a way to explore the relationship problems that many of the passengers themselves are facing (she often segues to little side-stories about the passengers that Astrid has "sent her love" to). This whole idea gives the book a unique premise, something more than your average YA novel.
GAH, you guys!! Are all the Rochester TBF authors going to be this good? Ask The Passengers was an awesome read, and has made me want to be all BFF-like with the YA genre again...for a little while, at least. :)