Saturday, 15 November 2014
Ask the passengers by A.S King
Ask the Passengers
A.S King (just wanted to mention, the whole name spells out ASKING.)
Age recommendation- 14 plus
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Ask the passengers is a filler book. You know, the book you read to fill in some spare time, if you have an extra hour. Lots of other people have said this book touched them in SO many ways. Now, I've read MANY lgbt books by now, and all of them I have liked more than this. (except maybe Good Moon Rising, but that's another story)
I did like ATP. It is a good book.
But you can only be "touched" by so many books.
I liked the way she gave love to passengers on planes- original, no?- and the way that love she sent linked to the passengers own stories, which at times I liked a LOT more than the actual story. I liked Astrid's feelings- the times when she was confused, and angry and she was letting out those feelings.
That was some beautiful writing.
NOW. What wasn't?
I didn't really get attached to any of the characters...
Dee was like Paige in PLL. She's always there, pressuring people and annoying the heck out of you.
Every time she entered the story, I would just be like-
Astrid was okay, but a little bland. She didn't have much character, and was a bit like most MC's in lgbt novels lately- only focused on the love interest and NOTHING ELSE. AT ALL. She also complained WAY too much to be likeable. So, to be honest, I never really felt sorry for her at all.
Kristina was a favourite. Even though she was more of a background character, I would LOVE to read a book with more about her.
I was actually convinced she and Astrid would end up together at many points.
Ellis was also a really good character. She had the sort of spark that interests me. Even though she was stupid sometimes, and "Small Minded," and she messed up, I liked that about her. It made her so much more realistic than Astrid.
Astrid's parents are very difficult. Claire, her mom, is very cold towards Astrid. It is hinted (and outright said) that Astrid did something to upset her mom, and she messed up and is a "failure" in Claire's eyes. I wish the book went into more detail about that, and I was fully expecting an ending scene where there's a flashback or at least Astrid and Claire talk it out. But no, I didn't get that, which was very disappointing.
Her dad, Gerry, is described as a "druggie" and isn't a very good parent, and pretty much lets Astrid do what she wants, so they get along more. That is not responsible parenting.
The book, as most lgbt books do, had the usual template-
girl meets girl, secret relationship, self realization, something happens to make everyone find out, then BAM. Conflict with parents and friends.
I really hoped and still wish it had been more original.
The passengers were, by far, the best parts of the book, and I was often looking forward to their parts. Their stories were beautiful and realistic. Often pretty sad, too and it shows you how seemingly normal strangers can have a lot more going on. I thought it very symbolic, how in the end, Astrid decided she didn't need to give away all her love anymore, showing that she now loves herself and others more. I really liked the last part of the book, which links a passenger and Astrid-
Jessica, the passenger, has obviously been sent to a de-gaying camp, after her parents finding out about her relationship, with a girl named Marie. Here it is:
"I wrap my love for Marie in a tight ball of mental swaddling. I wrap it in a soft, flannel blanket, four, ten, a hundred times. I wrap it so well that nothing can hurt it. And then I look out the window and I toss my love to whoever might be there to keep it safe.
Maybe if you catch this love, you can keep it safe? I ask them. Maybe somewhere down there knows what to do with it while I go and get brainwashed by people who hate me?"
And then, the fact that straight after, is Astrid's part---
"Dee says, "What?"
I try to think of what just happened, but I can't explain it. All I know is that a huge, overwhelming feeling of love has just landed in my heart, and I have to keep it safe for a while."
Is that NOT a GORGEOUS ending???? I actually teared up at the beauty of it (just a little bit) and while it's cheesy, it's a really cute ending.
Now, there is a discussion guide at the back, so I am going to go through the questions.
Q1. How would you describe Astrid's relationships with each of her family members? In what ways are these relationships dysfunctional, and in what ways are they healthy? Even though Astrid gets along best with her father, would you say that her relationship with him is any less dysfunctional than her relationships with her mother and sister?
A. WOAH, WOAH WOAH! Isn't this supposed to be one question? And yet you just piled about five on me!! I would say that Astrid and Gerry's relationship is just as dysfunctional as her relationships with Claire and Ellis, but I think the real thing to ask is Do Claire and Ellis have a good relationship? Because I definitely think that is the most dysfunctional of the lot.
Q2. Throughout the book, Astrid makes references to what "they say" and what "they think." Who do you think "They" are? What do you think "They" would say after reading this book?
A. I think Astrid thinks They are the in the town, but I think They are maybe actually the voices in Astrid's head, doubting herself and her relationship with Dee.
Q3. Why does Astrid send her love to the airplane passengers flying above her? Do you think the passengers are truly affected by Astrid's love? Is Astrid somehow impacted by the passengers, other than her finding solace in talking to people who can't talk back to her and judge her?
A. I do think they are impacted by Astrid, as they often mention feeling love, and after Astrid asks them things they start to think about those things. I also think Astrid is impacted by them- how I don't know exactly, I am not Astrid, but I know she is.
Q4. Sometimes people's external perceptions of others don't match those individuals internal truths. Which characters in the book does this concept describe?
A. Actually, it describes everyone, fictional or not. I guess in this book, which IS fictional, it best describes "Them." Which, as I mentioned before, is not just townspeople, it is Astrid herself.
Q5. How do Astrid's secrets change over time, and what impact do they ultimately have on how she handles speaking about her sexuality?
A. She starts being able to tell a couple of people, to the point where she can tell people in bars, people she doesn't know well. Eventually she grows as a person, and as she accepts her sexuality, she wears it better.
Q6. How do people define Astrid, and how do these definitions change over time? How does Astrid define herself, if at all? Do you think definitions are a useful or detrimental tool?
A. People first think of her as weird, but they aren't particularly unfriendly. After time, they label her as the "Gay Girl" of the school. Astrid does not define herself. She can tell people she is gay, but she thinks of herself as a person, and she doesn't define herself by her sexuality.
Q7. Do you think the ultimatum Dee presents to Astrid about coming out is helpful or harmful? What does it tell her about Dee?
A. You should not come out unless you feel ready and safe, and Dee was making Astrid uneasy. I don't know what Astrid thinks, but it tells me that she should kick Dee to the curb. I understand Dee was impatient, but she was pressuring Astrid, and being annoying.
Q8. How does Ask the Passengers use the Allegory of the Cave as a metaphor for Astrid's journey toward publicly acknowledging her sexuality?
A. I am afraid I do not understand. If you mean about that guy Astrid imagined in places, sorry but I still don't know.
Q9. A key theme in this book is the power of loving oneself. How does Astrid's journey toward this goal provide perspective on who you are and the relationships that you have with others?
A. Like I said before, the book did not really inspire me or anything. But I guess it might help someone to understand how to act towards themselves and others.
Now I am FINALLY done and can go back to reading a Roald Dahl book. Happy reading everyone, and I will be back soon :)