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 30,000 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.
©2012 A. S. King; 2012 Listening Library
A.S. King has an amazing ability of creating characters of depth and complexity that we can understand and empathize with while placing them in heart rendering situations that are soul deep. She has done her finest work with ASK THE PASSENGERS by showcasing a teenaged girl named Astrid Jones, a girl that is trying cope with the fact that her family is totally dysfunctional, that she might be gay and why she has to keep sending love to all the passengers on the planes that fly overhead.
EVERYBODY SEES THE ANTS because it is another well written novel by the same author
When Astrid finally looses it.
Yes, once I started I did not want to stop.
The reader for this novel did a fine job of conveying all the emotions that were conveyed in the book. She also sounded like a teen and not an older person trying too hard to sound like one. It was well done and I truly enjoyed this audiobook.
Devourer of all books fantasy
This is one of the few AS King books I haven’t read and I was excited to finally pick it up to read. It ended up being a very engaging book but didn’t have as much magical realism as King’s other books have had.
I listened to this on audiobook and the audiobook was very well done. The narrator sounded exactly like I imagined the main character would sound and did a good job of conveying emotion.
Astrid Jones has a secret; she is in love with a girl she works with. They steal secret kisses in the freezer room and secret moments by the lake. Astrid wants to confide in someone; but her mom is too pushy, and her constantly stoned dad isn’t interested. Her best friend, who is also gay, wants to put Astrid in a neatly labeled gay box. Astrid doesn’t know if she is gay or if she just happens to be in love with a girl and she is struggling. To cope she goes and lays out on a picnic table in her backyard and sends her love to the passengers that fly over her in airplanes.
This story has a lot of interesting elements to it. Astrid lives in a small town and moved there from New York City. She is adjusting to the small town vibe and with how vicious rumors are in that setting.
Astrid is also really into philosophy and is taking a honors humanities course; to help her cope with all the pain and trouble around her she’s made herself an imaginary friend name Frank Socrates that she can talk to.
When Astrid sends her love to the passengers in the plane we occasionally get a glimpse into one of the passengers lives and what they are dealing with. This was interesting and I was impressed with how quickly I became engaged with these airplane passengers’ stories and wanted to know more about them.
As with other of King’s novels there is a bit of magical realism. When Astrid sends her love to a passenger the passenger actually seems to be affected by her questions/love/concern in some way. Also Astrid seems to see Frank Socrates hanging around sometimes (although she admits he is in her imagination).
Mostly though this story is about society and definition and expectations of society. It’s about how much people need labels and boxes to make themselves feel in control. It’s also about a teenage girl who is struggling to figure out what it means to be gay and what it means to be in love.
Overall this was another incredibly well done AS King novel that breaches a number of societal questions while providing an engaging story with a heroine you really care about. I continue to be impressed with how much King can pack into a story and with how much these books leave me to think about. The story and characters are completely engaging and very hard to put down. I would highly recommend everyone read this book. We can all stand to learn more about tolerance and equality.
Delight in the journey and the struggle on the road to your dreams
I was so psyched when I found this book; an adolescent bisexual girl who was hiding the gay part of her life, and perhaps the gay portion of herself, from herself, as well. I hyped the book to my cadre and sold it as a group listening experience, and then I began listening. It was so seriously disappointing that it embarrassed me. I'm busy with my classes and I don't usually have the time to listen to a full length audio and I made this an exception much to my own embarrassment. This audio moved at a snail's pace with a superfluity of repetition; I mean how many Saturday's did Astrid and Dee have the same argument. Basically it felt to me like Astrid spent the entire first half of the book in her own head going back and forth like a full on female Hamlet. As a young gay woman I can't bring myself to give this book one star but neither can I recommend it.
There was so much I liked about Ask the Passengers--it was so close to getting 5 stars. It's not ground breaking in any way but it is a really enjoyable book that has some great characters, writing, and storytelling.
My biggest complaint is actually the idea of her sending love to the passengers. I felt the little afterthoughts/snippets/side-notes that appeared about specific passengers periodically really detracted from an otherwise rich narrative. I felt like these pieces (and most of the bits about the planes in general) were forced and gimmicky--and actually took away from the rest of the story. The story would have held together (and for me would have been better) without this side interest. Though minor points are added in for the final passenger sort of pulling it all together. I felt like the Socrates and Allegory of the Cave was enough of a shadow throughout the book that there didn't need to be another "side note" throughout the book (I also felt the Socrates thread worked better and didn't detract from the story like the passengers did).
One of the things I did enjoy was that while Astrid's family was surely dysfunctional (a pot-head dad, a mom too worried about how she/the family is perceived, and a sister who struggled with her own challenges and turned into a bit of a jerk at times), it's not the typical horribly tragic home life or back story that often accompany YA novels (or often YA LGBTQ novels). Though some of these interactions bordered on the unrealistic to me, it was overall well done.
I really struggled with Astrid's very quick forgiveness of some characters (being vague to avoid spoilers) after some serious betrayals. It just seemed, given the infractions, that realistically it would have taken more time to forgive and move on (though I don't find it unreasonable for her to forgive the person, just the ease at which it happens).
There was a lot to like about Astrid herself and a lot to relate to (whether someone is straight, LGBTQ, or somewhere in between)--she wanted to do things on her own terms, she advocated for herself when she felt things going too quickly with Dee, it felt like she had a good head on her shoulders (even if she didn't always listen to her instincts), she sometimes struggled trying to figure things out, and makes some pretty profound statements throughout the book. So much to relate to!
I think Astrid's process of discovering who she is and her frustrations with labels and boxes is absolutely relatable to many people. She doesn't want to be pigeonholed--especially because she's just starting discover her sexuality and is not sure what she is. Yes, she has fallen in love with a girl--but does that mean she would fall in love with another girl?
I will say that I would have like to have seen a little more depth to the relationship between Dee and Astrid. There were moments, that I didn't really understand why they were even together--thee just didn't seem to be a ton of depth to their relationship. I wanted to explore a bit more of their friendship and bond--what were the things they liked to do together outside of work, what made them want to be together other than convenience? Though I do appreciate the fact that they actually talk about having sex, what it means, and decide whether they are ready.
Overall, I think this book is absolutely worth the read!
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