By Tasslyn Magnusson
King, AS. Ask the Passengers. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2012.
Astrid Jones is confused. And hurt. And upset. Her parents moved to a small town from New York a few years ago. She’s become increasingly disconnected from her sister. She’s sure her mother hates her. Her father is stuck in the garage sneaking pot. She’s secretly kissing a girl in the freezer at work. The ultimate in the closet. Her best friend has her covering for her because she’s come out as a lesbian and the boy masquerading as her boyfriend is gay.
When Astrid is stressed, she climbs on a picnic bench and stares at planes in the sky. She’s sending her love to people, she thinks because she can’t figure out what to do with her love in her family and friends. King writes short passenger stories as Astrid sends her love – each is of a person who is needing to make a change or come to a realization about their life and they feel Astrid’s energy and are changed by it. I loved this particular extra nudge to the reader – never forget that the energy that changes you comes from someone – a living breathing person – who deserves your love back.
King’s book is about coming to accept yourself, your family, your sexuality and to love inspite of the pain all of that confusion causes you. What was particularly strong about this was that Astrid was confused and unclear about her sexuality. She tells her parents that if falling in love with a girl means she’s gay, then she must be. But for Astrid the journey is to find love. What she realizes is love isn't harmful but the secrecy with which she's hiding her love is harmful.