cover image Ask the Passengers

Ask the Passengers

A.S. King. Little, Brown, $17.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-316-19468-6

The philosophical searching, surprising spiritual guides, and powerful observations of contemporary life that characterize previous works by King (Everybody Sees the Ants) are in full evidence in a story that’s at once much more than a coming-out novel and one of the best coming-out novels in years. High school senior Astrid Jones moved from New York City to Unity Valley, Pa., with her family years ago, but it still doesn’t feel like home. Astrid isn’t comfortable labeling herself gay (“I’m not in this to be a member of some club. I’m not going through this so I can lock myself in the one of them box”), and the community’s homophobia and aggressive rumor mill weigh heavily on her. When several secrets become public, Astrid’s relationships are further strained, and she copes by silently sending love to the passengers of airplanes flying overhead (whose brief stories indicate they can sense Astrid’s questions and feel the love she unleashes) and carrying on imaginary conversations with Socrates. Funny, provocative, and intelligent, King’s story celebrates love in all of its messy, modern complexity. Ages 15–up. Agent: Michael Bourret, Dystel & Goderich Literary Management. (Oct.)