Thursday, April 17, 2014
REVIEW: Ask the Passengers by A. S. King
Ask the Passengers is a story about Astrid, a teenage girl living in a small town. At the start of the story, it's pretty apparent that Astrid's family isn't one that is very conducive to opening up about Astrid's thoughts and feelings, especially about her feelings for Dee, a female co-worker at Astrid's weekend job. Astrid's mother is a bit overbearing and her dad is very laid-back and uninterested and Astrid pretty much dismisses her younger sister. And instead of confiding in them or with her best friend, Astrid spends the majority of her time in the background staring up at the sky and sending love to the planes that pass by overhead because she feels her love is going to waste in her own life.
Like I said, I really enjoyed this story. I found the whole situation with Astrid and her family to be really interesting to witness as throughout the story Astrid begins to question her place in the family and to question the conditions of her family's love towards her and to also demand more respect. Their family dynamic was one of my favourite parts of the book and I was really glad to see that there was more love and support from them than Astrid had known of or believed.
I was less certain of Astrid' friendships. Her best friend, Kristina, was all kinds of pushy and demanding and I wasn't sold on the strength of Astrid and Kristina's friendship at all. Kristina is gay but still in the closet and drags Astrid to a local gay bar regularly but seems to bail on Astrid when things get tough. While Astrid is still pondering the definition of being gay and trying to process what it means to have feelings for another girl, the people in Astrid's life seem to have so many demands on her. To have definitive answers, to be out, to tell her parents, to tell the world, to go further in their relationship than she's ready to go. It's all a little bit much for Astrid and I really felt for her throughout.
This is a very thinky book, with a lot of philosophical questions thrown in and even the embodiment of Socrates himself towards the second half of the book. Sprinkled throughout Astrid's narration are excerpts from the passengers in the planes that Astrid is sending love and questions to. I get what the author was trying to do with these passages - highlight the fact that what we send out to the universe has an effect on other people - but about halfway through the book I started skimming the passengers stories as I felt like it was taking away from Astrid's story and her perspective.
Overall though, I really enjoyed Ask the Passengers and I found it really interesting to read Astrid's story and see how she faces the different relationship problems that she has in her life from her parents, her sister, her best friend, her girlfriend and from other people in her life. I love how many different versions of love that Astrid comes across and how she deals with each of them. I really liked this one and can definitely recommend it.