Ask the Passengers by A.S. King
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I've officially given myself permission to put down books. This is a recent choice - it's not something I've done in the past. I would always push through, no matter what. But, the disastrousness of the The Gold Finch taught me better.
I had to put this one down, too.
This is the second book on the ALA Battle of the Books list that I just couldn't get through. The narrator was dull and the premise of the story was just too cliche - small town girl is gay, can't tell her family, rumor mill, etc...etc...etc...and she talks to airplanes. I felt like that was jut a gimmick. I tried to read on, I really did, but I eventually just had to shut the book.
Now, that's not to say that the writing wasn't sound. King does do a solid job writing words that are interesting; the story just wasn't interesting.
I can't recommend Ask the Passengers to high school students or anyone else. While it had a somewhat sympathetic heroine struggling to make a choice of coming out of the "proverbial closet" or not, and I think it's important to have LGBT protagonists in YA lit, this one didn't do it for me. In fact, it felt almost insulting to my former students that are gay - the subject matter was handled poorly and predictably. The book hovers between"poor little me" and extremely pretentious. All the characters besides Astrid (the protagonist) were unlikable and I didn't love her all that much. And the story delivered a troubling message about putting up with abuse.
But, just in case you are curious - here's the plot 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.
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 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.
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.
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