I am thrilled to welcome the fabulous A.S. King to Love YA Lit today in celebration of the release of her latest (and some, myself included, would say greatest) novel, Ask the Passengers. Easily one of my top reads of 2012, Ask the Passengers tells the story of Astrid Jones, a girl with a secret, who wants to confide in someone, but isn’t sure who she can trust. Her mother’s always working or doting on her sister, her father’s stoned most of the time, her sister can be pretty judgmental, (Frank) Socrates – well, he’s been dead for over 2 millenia, and she is worried what her friends will think/feel/say if they learn her secret. So instead, she sends her love and her questions to the passengers on airplanes that fly overhead. But will they be able to help her understand what it means that she is falling in love with a girl, or will she have to find those answers elsewhere?
Ask the Passengers has received several starred reviews, and while my stars aren’t quite as fancypants as those of Kirkus Reviews (“King has created an intense, fast-paced, complex and compelling novel about sexuality, politics and societal norms that will force readers outside their comfort zones.”) or Publishers Weekly (“Funny, provocative, and intelligent, King’s story celebrates love in all of its messy, modern complexity.”), I’ll be awarding 5 stars of my own and giving away a copy of Ask the Passengers this weekend when I share my review. But for now, on to the asking!
A.S. King is the author of the highly acclaimed Everybody Sees the Ants, a 2012 ALA Top Ten Book for Young Adults and Andre Norton Award nominee, and the Edgar Award nominated, 2011 Michael L. Printz Honor Book Please Ignore Vera Dietz. She is also the author of the ALA Best Books for Young Adults Dust of 100 Dogs, Ask the Passengers (2012), and the upcoming REALITY BOY (2013). After a decade living self-sufficiently and teaching literacy to adults in Ireland, she now lives deep in the Pennsylvania woods with her husband and children. She has also been a rare poultry breeder, photographer, master printer, contractor, summer camp counselor, pizza delivery driver and, for a week or two, nothing at all.
(Frank) Socrates features prominently in Ask The Passengers. I can’t help but think of Socrates [soh-kreyts] as one of the super star, time traveling, historical figures in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. If you could have any historical figure come to visit you, who would it be and where would you take them?
I have never seen Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. I’m more of a Deer Hunter kind of moviegoer. But to answer your question: I would visit with Walt Whitman and I’d take him to the top of a mountain and we’d have a picnic and talk about how the world is a crazy place.
Astrid Jones endeavours to protect her sister from the flying monkeys. Vera Dietz (Please Ignore Vera Dietz) has angry monkeys in her head. How can we best protect ourselves from these monkeys?
I think the truth pretty much protects you from everything. And so, the truth will protect you from the flying monkeys, whether they are swooping in from the outside or whether they are hanging out on the inside. (Additional flying monkey info: Pretending to know a thing is probably the most powerful flying monkey lure in the galaxy. Know-it-alls are covered in flying monkeys.)
What would you like to ask the passengers?
First, I’d send love. (I always do that anyway.) Then, I’d ask them if they ate a nice breakfast. Breakfast is important.
Astrid realizes that she’s taking trig for all the wrong reasons and quits (hurray!). Did you ever take an unrequired class that you wished you hadn’t? Are there any classes you wish you had taken instead?
Best. Question. Ever. Yes. I did take an unrequired class or two that I wish I could have switched. I took a lot of gym classes in 11th and 12th grade because I could, and because I was simultaneously avoiding the classes I was afraid to take. There was this history teacher in our school. He was probably the best teacher I ever saw and the smartest man I ever knew. (I mean smart in all ways–especially in the way of knowing what he didn’t know.) His classes were the best classes. My sisters had taken them. But by high school, my grades were so bad and my study skills were so lame that I avoided his classes. Now, we’re pals. We eat breakfast together sometimes. (Breakfast is important.) He reads my books and tells me that he likes them and it’s like getting an A in all those classes I never had the guts to take. Except that really, I missed my chance. So: short answer: as much as I loved badminton, I wish I would have been in Mr. Fleck’s room learning history.
I once won a copy of Please Ignore Vera Dietz for describing my favorite pizza toppings (they are pretty tasty). The winner was selected by your toddler. This was two years ago. So, for A.S. King’s no-longer-a-toddler, I want to know: what is your dream pizza?
She answers: I am now five. I like plain pizza. I don’t like white pizza. I add: True story. We’re a plain (or white) pizza family. Toppings just aren’t our thing..although lately I’ve been putting broccoli sprouts on everything I eat.
Thanks A.S. King for stopping by and sharing your thoughts (and you know, in general for writing great books)! You can read more about A.S. King and her books on her website – the official hideout. Her blog is also a must read. Follow her blog. You won’t regret it.
Thanks to Little, Brown Books for Young Readers for inviting us to participate in the blog tour and for sending a review copy our way!
For more about A.S. King and Ask the Passengers, check out the other stops on her blog tour this week: The Book Smugglers, Mundie Moms, Forever Young Adult, and Chick Loves Lit.
Note: it took A.S. King writing a book with the word “ask” in the title for me to recognize that her name spells out “asking”. Am I the only one late to this party?