Friday, 11 April 2014

Ask the Passengers by A.S. King




Ask the Passengers by A.S.King
Published 2012 by Little, Brown
Source: the library
Rating: 5 stars

From the blurb: 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.

I’ve been meaning to read A.S. King’s books for some time now, I even own Please Ignore Vera Dietz, but for some reason I haven’t read it yet. Thankfully our book club pick for March was Ask the Passengers and it was brilliant.

Astrid lives with her younger sister Ellis and her parents in a small town called Unity Valley. They used to live in New York but moved when her grandmother died and her mother bought their family home. Their mother works from home and is a stickler for rules. She favours Ellis and picks on her husband. Astrid’s dad lost his job and now works at a job he hates, he smokes a lot of pot and thinks no one notices.

I adored Astrid, she’s like any teenager: a little lonely, not sure of who she is, and in need of love. She enjoys sending love to people who serve her in stores, to her family, and to the people in the planes that fly over her backyard. Astrid thinks she might be gay and is spending a lot of time with a girl from her part-time job, Dee. Dee tries to pressure Astrid into coming out to everyone, and to be more physical with her.

Speaking of pressure, Astrid’s mum made me livid. Nothing Astrid does is good enough, and when she suspects that Astrid is gay, she tries to force her into admitting it. It infuriated me that a parent would treat their child in the way that she did. Her dad was a little better but still tried to pressure Astrid into telling them, and even when she did give them an honest answer, they wouldn’t take her word for it.

Astrid is also keeping secrets for her friends Justin and Kristina. Astrid doesn’t tell Kristina about Dee or that she’s questioning her sexuality and when Kristina finds out, she turns on Astrid. It comes from feeling betrayed and untrustworthy, that’s understandable, but she could have been a much better friend.

I really felt for Astrid, she’s under pressure from everyone around her and the only comfort she gets is from sending love to the people in the planes. Included in the story is the perspective of some of the passengers aboard these planes, often their lives tie in with what Astrid is feeling at the time, and it was a good addition to the story.

The writing was perfect, it conveyed so clearly the claustrophobic small town vibe, feeling boxed in by the residents who are always watching and gossiping. I was so absorbed in Astrid' story I felt as though I was there.

This is a really wonderful look at family dynamics, and a realistic take on the life of a teenager, struggling to figure out who she is. 

22 comments:

  1. I am so intrigued by the synopsis and the way her parents treat her!
    Missie @ A Flurry of Ponderings

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  2. I'm so glad you enjoyed this one, Mandee! King's Vera Dietz debut didn't completely work for me, but I'm very curious about this one and hope to read it before her newest novel hits shelves later this year. Fantastic review!

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  3. The synopsis for this book is very intriguing! I really can't wait to read this book - thank you for the great review. :)

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  4. I haven't read anything by this author either. This one sounds really good!

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  5. I've never heard of this author before but I think I'm going to put AS King on my to-read list. Astrid sounds like a character I could really connect with and she sounds like such a loyal friend! Great review, Mands!

    Kate @ Fictional Thoughts

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  6. Confession: I haven't read anything by this author yet. I have been meaning to read Reality Boy but still haven't gotten around to it. This one sounds beautiful though!

    lovely review, Mands! <33

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  7. I haven't read this author yet, but I want to . I read another great review for this book somewhere and I can't remember where. Anyway, thanks for recalling it to my attention. I am adding it to the list.

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    1. No worries, Heids! I hope you get a chance to read it

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  8. I've also been meaning to pick up a book by this author. The one she has coming out later this year sounds AMAZING. I'll have to give this one a try in the meantime. The mother sounds awful which is always a big book pet peeve for me. Great review!

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    1. Yes, I want to read all of her work, and I will check out her newest one

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  9. I have a copy of A.S. King's Reality Boy, but I haven't read anything from her yet! I've been seeing great things about her books, though. This one sounds really good and realistic. :) Great review!

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    1. I hope you enjoy RB when you read it, Rach!

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  10. I haven't heard of this author before now but it sounds like an interesting book. Astrid sounds like a wonderful, conflicted character - I'm not sure I'd be a fan of her parents either, they sound horrible!

    A lovely review Mandee :)

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    1. They were, but I enjoyed the story nonetheless!

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  11. Oh I adore this book, I'm so glad to hear you loved it too! A.S. King has become an auto-buy author for me, her writing and her characters always blow me away. And yes, I wanted to slap Astrid's mom (and to a lesser extent her dad)! I'm ashamed to admit I also felt sorry for her, even though I really didn't want to. Lovely review! :-)

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    1. It was so brilliant, Lauren! I defo want to read more of her work.

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