It’s difficult to live in a small town when you’ve grown up in the big city. It’s difficult to live in a small town when your mother hides away in her home office and your dad’s a secret stoner. It’s difficult to live in a small town when you’re gay or questioning. So, life for Astrid Jones is difficult.
In addition, her mother doesn’t talk to her, preferring Astrid’s year younger ‘pefect’ sister, and her father’s either not around physically or too stoned to carry on a decent conversation. So, Astrid spends time looking up at the sky, sending her love to passengers on the planes flying overhead.
When Astrid’s catering co-worker, Dee, expresses interest and Astrid’s gay friends, Justin and Kristina, illicitly spirit her away to a gay bar on a Satuday night (under the guise of Astrid’s date with a guy), she is faced with a dilemma. What is she? Does she fit into a box?
I had no idea what Ask the Passengers was about when I picked it up. It was recommended by an author whose opinion I value. But, I read Ask the Passengers by A.S. King way into the night, I couldn’t wait to find out what happens. Astrid’s questioning is so real and the pressure she feels as Kristina and Dee push her to come out when she’s not ready is palpable. Her family dynamics, pushy mother/benign father, is true in so many families, I’m betting.
King, every now and then, tells a story about a passenger on one of the planes Astrid sends her love to. If you believe that our thoughts may travel through space and impact some unknown person (and I do because the cosmos is an amazing place and I think things happen way beyond our imagination), then Astrid’s love sending does somehow influence the universe.
And finally, the devil/angel on Astrid’s shoulder in the form of Socrates (she’s studying the philosophers in Humanities class) just adds to the enjoyment. Some people have a knack for telling a good story. It’s evident that A.S. King, indeed, has that gift.
I will tell you that my all time favorite book on this subject is still Keeping You a Secret by Julie Anne Peters. That may never change. But, if you want a new version of this story, one that will keep you reading into the night, then Ask the Passengers will fit that bill.