Title: Ask the Passengers
Author: A. S. King
Release Date: October 23, 2012
All right – first, major props to A.S. King for writing her name – Amy Sarig King – this way (A.S. King, ASKing)! Brilliant! Second, this book is very… eye-opening. It’s the story of Astrid Jones, a city girl living in a small, conservative town called Unity Valley, who has so much love to give, and no one to give it to. Her mother is always on the run, always cultivating her idea of being the perfect “cool” mom, which includes keeping tabs on her daughters by texting their friends and pretending she’s twenty years younger. Astrid’s father is pretty much perpetually stoned, stuck in a rut trying to escape Unity Valley for his memories of living in the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple. Her younger sister, Ellis, one of the popular girls – pretty, flirty, and a star hockey player – doesn’t need Astrid to be her safety blanket anymore. And the one person who loves Astrid is off-limits – Dee Roberts, strong, fit, athletic, the hockey star of the next school district over, and a girl. See, Unity Valley, in all its narrow-minded glory, is homophobic.
And because Astrid has so much love to spare, she lies on her back on a picnic table in her backyard and sends that extra love to the passengers in the airplanes three thousand feet in the air.
King intersperses Astrid’s story with small, intercalary blurbs from the passengers’ points of view, passengers who are having problems of their own and don’t know what to do. And they feel Astrid’s love, and learn how to find what they’re looking for.
This is a beautiful story about love and truth, and the struggle that many people have to come to terms with their own sexuality. For me, living in an area where homosexuality is accepted and embraced by many, I’ve never quite realized the depth of discrimination many gays and lesbians must struggle through. King’s story really made me think about the bigotry and unfairness most homosexuals encounter, and makes me admire the strength of their love.
For Astrid, living in a town called Unity Valley, she sees that really, no one is united at all.
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