Friday, March 21, 2014
Ask the Passengers
Info: Little Brown BFYR, copyright 2012, 304 pages
A review in 10 words (or thereabouts): You can't pick your family, but you can pick what type of person you'll be.
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.
Let's just dive right into the awesome. Final a female protagonist, in the real world, who totally kicks butt. And not literally, which is even more exciting. Here's a teenage girl that is scared, misunderstood, and living in a terrible environment, but she perseveres. She never compromises who she is and what she stands for. She's real, and she's fierce.
The Not So Awesome
There's a lot going on in this story. There's the "personal" Astrid, struggling with her sexuality and looking for someone who will actually listen to what she needs. There's Astrid the daughter, living in a home life that is far from desirable. There's Astrid the philosopher, imagining "Frank" Socrates as her only confidant, pondering life's big questions and searching for answers. And there's Astrid the dreamer, staring up at airplanes in the sky sending out love. At times, there was too much going on. Imaginary Frank would have been fine. Or sending love to passengers and hearing their stories would have been fine. But both together got a bit overwhelming, and at times, distracted from the story.
Over the past couple of years I have read easily a dozen LGBT titles, and I was often left frustrated. Story was often times sacrificed for issue. Sexuality was put on display instead of telling a story about teenagers dealing with real world issues. King gets it right. This is a read I would quickly suggest to teens questioning and struggling. Astrid confronts her confusion with maturity. King shows the struggles of secrets and the desire to live truthfully. She confronts the topic from teens comfortable and those not as comfortable. Teens lustful and those looking genuinely for love and acceptance. Astrid is confused. And that's okay. She's scared. And that's okay. She's not showy or forceful about her feelings. And that's okay. She's a girl. Looking for a way. She's a girl that's looking for love, and when she can't find it, she sends it to others.
Despite some of the plot quirks, the more I've thought about this book, the more I really appreciate what A.S. King has done. A great read.