Ask the Passengers: A Novel
Ask the Passengers: A Novel

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Annotation: Confused by her feelings for another girl and unable to trust her neglectful parents, Astrid sends her love and questions to the only people she believes can receive them: the passengers in the planes flying over her backyard.
Genre: Love stories
Catalog Number: #74704
Format: Perma-Bound Edition
All Formats: Search
Copyright Date: 2012
Edition Date: 2013
Pages: 293 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-316-19467-0 Perma-Bound: 0-605-72503-9
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-316-19467-9 Perma-Bound: 978-0-605-72503-4
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2011053207
Dimensions: 21 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
Horn Book
Astrid would be the quintessential Q-for-Questioning girl in her high school's LGBTQ support group if her small-town school had such a thing--and the gay question is only one of many weighing her down. She sends her questions to the passengers in planes she sees overhead; each time, readers get a glimpse of a passenger's own struggle with Astrid's question. A furiously smart and funny coming-out-and-of-age novel.
Publishers Weekly
The philosophical searching, surprising spiritual guides, and powerful observations of contemporary life that characterize previous works by King (Everybody Sees the Ants) are in full evidence in a story that-s at once much more than a coming-out novel and one of the best coming-out novels in years. High school senior Astrid Jones moved from New York City to Unity Valley, Pa., with her family years ago, but it still doesn-t feel like home. Astrid isn-t comfortable labeling herself gay (-I-m not in this to be a member of some club. I-m not going through this so I can lock myself in the one of them box-), and the community-s homophobia and aggressive rumor mill weigh heavily on her. When several secrets become public, Astrid-s relationships are further strained, and she copes by silently sending love to the passengers of airplanes flying overhead (whose brief stories indicate they can sense Astrid-s questions and feel the love she unleashes) and carrying on imaginary conversations with Socrates. Funny, provocative, and intelligent, King-s story celebrates love in all of its messy, modern complexity. Ages 15-up. Agent: Michael Bourret, Dystel & Goderich Literary Management. (Oct.)

School Library Journal Starred Review
Gr 10 Up&12; Astrid Jones is a high-school senior in a small, Pennsylvania town. She's a top student and loves philosophy. (She gives Socrates a first name-Frank.) Her favorite pastime is to lie on the picnic table she and her father built in the backyard and send her love to passengers in the airplanes as they pass overhead. The teen sends her love off to strangers, because she has no use for it at home. She has an agoraphobic, type-A mother who wears business suits and heels when she works from home. While emotionally unavailable to her first born, she regularly plans boozy "Mommy and Me" nights with Astrid's younger sister. Her mother also has a texting relationship with Astrid's best friend. Astrid's father is underemployed and smokes pot all the time. Her sister just wants to fit in with small-town life. And Astrid herself is ambivalent about her sexuality and is being pressured by her lesbian work friend to come out. Her school friends, members of the homecoming court, are pretending to be a couple but are actually gay. The townspeople are small-minded and gossipy. Astrid's overwhelming need to send messages of love to anonymous passengers sometimes appears to touch those passengers, who are also leading lives of quiet desperation. And, sometimes, maybe they can send love to Astrid. King's thoughtful, sad, funny, and frank book is finally about paradox and will appeal to any mature teen resisting the pressure to conform or rebel; anyone who wants to define herself on her own terms; and anyone whose family life belies the 1950s sitcom myth.&12; Nina Sachs, Walker Memorial Library, Westbrook, ME
Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
Big-town girl stuck in a small-town world full of lies falls for another girl. Astrid's parents moved both her and her sister away from their New York City home years ago to a small town symbolically called Unity Valley. Since then her mom has drunk the society Kool-Aid, and her dad takes mental vacations in the garage to smoke weed. Astrid doesn't feel like she fits in anywhere. Two friends keep her sane: her closeted BFF, Kristina, and Dee, a star hockey player she met while working for a local catering company. Sparks fly between Astrid and Dee, causing Astrid to feel even more distanced and confused. Meanwhile, Kristina and her boyfriend/beard Justin use Astrid as cover for their own same-sex sweethearts, adding more fuel to the fire. King has created an intense, fast-paced, complex and compelling novel about sexuality, politics and societal norms that will force readers outside their comfort zones. The whole town—even the alleged gay characters—buy into the Stepford-like ideal, and King elegantly uses Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" to help readers understand life inside and outside of the box. Only Astrid knows what she wants. She's in love with Dee, but she's not sure if she's a lesbian. She's ignoring all of the labels and focusing on what she feels. Quite possibly the best teen novel featuring a girl questioning her sexuality written in years. (Fiction. 14 & up)
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* Astrid has a lot of love to give, and she gives it freely to schoolmates, friends, and even her dysfunctional family. But most of all, she sends her love to the passengers in the planes whizzing high above her small, gossipy, intolerant town: "Because if I give it all away, no one can control it." But she does love her coworker Dee and her best friend Christina, whose biggest secret she keeps. Printz Honor Book author King (Please Ignore Vera Dietz, 2010) continues to expertly plumb the lovely numbness of a young person struck by emotional paralysis. Afraid to come out, afraid to be boxed in, and afraid to fall under the scrutiny of her town, Astrid lives a rich inner life, which King depicts with deft magical realist conventions that recall Everybody Sees the Ants (2011). Astrid's consciousness is exemplified by Socrates, an agent of truth and logic who silently judges her for not owning up to her personal truths. King also incorporates the first-person narrations of the passengers in the planes, whose stories unknowingly parallel and carry Astrid's affections and desire for escape. Another thoughtful, and often breathtaking, achievement for King, whose star is ascending as quickly as one of Astrid's planes.
Word Count: 64,315
Reading Level: 3.9
Interest Level: 9-12
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 3.9 / points: 9.0 / quiz: 154838 / grade: Upper Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:4.5 / points:16.0 / quiz:Q59248
Lexile: HL630L

In this truly original portrayal of a girl struggling to break free of society's definitions, Printz Honor author A.S. King asks readers to question everything--and offers hope to those who will never stop seeking real love.


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 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.


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