Ask the Passengers by A. S. King
Astrid has a habit of lying on a picnic table in the backyard and looking up at airplanes and sending out her love to the world. She employs this strategy when others are making her mad and she sends her love out consciously but silently to others.
She has two friends, Ashley and Justin. Both have a huge secret Astrid is keeping, and she has her own secret that she isn't sharing.
Her parents are overbearing and her mom cares more about the opinions of others than she does her own daughter. Astrid is questioning who she is and doesn't want to fit neatly into a box of other people's making. Is she gay, she doesn't know? Is she straight, she doesn't know that either and other people's impressions, stereotypes, and definitions get in the way of figuring out who she really is.
Astrid lives in small town, Pennsylvania, where no one is gay, everyone is white and Christian and no one ever questions the status quo. Everyone knows your name and your business so being different is something that doesn't happen. Yet Astrid and her friends are different.
I fell in love with Ask the Passengers from the very first page. Astrid is a great character and I love her vulnerability but I also like her honesty. I am a humanities teacher and Astrid is in a Humanities class where she reads Plato's republic. Astrid must argue a paradox for her Socrates project and walk down the hall in a toga. I frankly love the classroom elements and how King is able to weave philosophical paradox's throughout the novel.
I have to say I have recommended Ask the Passengers multiple times since I finished it. It is hands down the best book I read over the summer. It is so smartly written and gives me a happy feeling deep inside. Seriously, it is beautiful and layered with feeling. You can feel the love emerging right from the turn of the very first page.
I love books that change you and kind of knock you on your head and get you to look at the world a little differently. Ask the Passengers is that type of book for me. At times, when I am angry with someone, I find myself thinking about Astrid and then I send them some silent love. It makes me feel better. So even though I am not mad at her, I am sending out my love to A.S. King for writing this book and I know that I have another writer to add to my list of favorites.
Readers, I am also sending out my love to you too. Find yourself a picnic table, look up at the sky and exude an outpouring of love. Imagine a sign flapping from the back of an airplane saying "Read Ask the Passengers".