Love and Acceptance
Ask the Passengers by A.S. King is about Astrid Jones who has a big secret that even she needs to grasp. She is a senior in high school and lives in a small town with her family. Astrid desperately wants guidance from someone about coming to terms with her secret, but because her mother and younger sister are judgmental, her dad is inattentive and all three are unloving, she lies on top of a picnic bench in the backyard sending her questions and love to the passengers who fly overhead. The story is told in first person, but as Astrid asks her questions, fascinating short passages of the passengers’ stories are intermittently woven into the book.
What’s also great about this book is that even though it is about a girl who is confused about her sexuality, the issues Astrid faces are common among many teens: bullying, sex, cliques, sibling rivalry, etc. Astrid considers herself a bookworm and philosophy nerd, while grappling with her issues she is also learning life lessons from her philosophy class. She conjures up Frank Socrates who shows up randomly when she needs him. Frank, of course, is an imaginary embodiment of Socrates, in full garb. While this is a coming out story about Astrid and it is a tale that has been told before, Ask the Passengers is ultimately about unconditional love and acceptance.