Estimated read time: 6 min read

One Sentence Summary

A teenage girl struggles with her identity and sexuality in a small town while sending her love to the passengers in airplanes flying overhead.


In "Ask the Passengers" by A.S. King, the author delves into the complexities of identity, love, and the pursuit of happiness. This young adult novel takes readers on a thought-provoking journey as it explores the struggles and triumphs of its main character, Astrid Jones. Through Astrid's experiences, the author addresses important themes such as self-acceptance, the impact of societal expectations, and the search for genuine connections. Set in a small town in Pennsylvania, the story unfolds against a backdrop of high school drama, family dynamics, and the challenges of coming to terms with one's own truth.

Brief Synopsis

Plot Overview and Setting

The story is set in a small town in Pennsylvania, where Astrid Jones, the protagonist, navigates the challenges of high school and her personal life. Astrid often finds solace in lying on her picnic table, gazing at the sky, and sending her love to the passengers of the airplanes flying overhead. As she grapples with her own identity and experiences, she begins to question the expectations placed on her by society and her family. The novel provides an intimate look at Astrid's journey of self-discovery and the relationships that shape her world.

Main Characters

The characters in "Ask the Passengers" play crucial roles in shaping the narrative and exploring the book's central themes. Here are the main characters:

Astrid JonesThe protagonist who struggles with her identity, love, and the pressures of societal expectations.
DeeAstrid's girlfriend who supports her through her journey of self-discovery.
KristinaAstrid's best friend who grapples with her own challenges while offering Astrid unwavering support.
EllisAstrid's father, who faces his own battles while trying to understand and connect with his daughter.
SocratesA mysterious character who engages Astrid in thought-provoking conversations, challenging her perceptions.

Summary of Each Different Story Points over Chapters

Chapters 1-3: The Initial Struggles

Astrid grapples with her own identity and the pressures of conforming to societal expectations. She shares her thoughts and feelings with the passengers of the airplanes flying overhead, seeking a connection outside her restrictive environment. Her relationship with her family and friends undergoes scrutiny as she questions the norms that govern her life.

Chapters 4-6: Exploring Love and Connections

Astrid's growing attraction to her classmate, Dee, becomes a pivotal point in her life. As she navigates her feelings for Dee, she also contends with the complexities of relationships and the fear of being judged. Meanwhile, she seeks solace in her imaginary conversations with the passengers flying above, hoping for understanding and acceptance.

Chapters 7-9: Family Dynamics and Self-Discovery

Astrid's interactions with her family members, especially her father, shed light on the tensions and misunderstandings that arise from their different perspectives. She continues to grapple with her own identity and the expectations placed upon her, leading to moments of introspection and self-discovery.

Chapters 10-12: Challenging Societal Norms

Astrid's conversations with Socrates prompt her to question the established societal norms and expectations. She begins to challenge the limitations placed on love and individual expression, ultimately seeking to find her own path to happiness and acceptance.

Chapters 13-15: Embracing Authenticity

As Astrid's journey progresses, she learns to embrace her authentic self and seeks to live her truth, despite the obstacles she faces. Her relationships with Dee, Kristina, and her family evolve as she strives to break free from the constraints of societal judgment and pursue genuine connections.

Main Events

The main events in "Ask the Passengers" revolve around Astrid's journey of self-discovery, her relationships, and her pursuit of authenticity. These events include Astrid's exploration of her feelings for Dee, her conversations with the enigmatic Socrates, her struggles with family dynamics, and her quest to challenge societal norms. The novel unfolds a series of events that shape Astrid's understanding of herself and her place in the world, culminating in moments of revelation and personal growth.

Themes and Insights

Self-acceptance and Identity

The novel delves into the theme of self-acceptance, highlighting the challenges individuals face in embracing their true identities. Astrid's journey serves as a poignant exploration of the complexities of self-discovery and the courage required to live authentically.

Societal Expectations and Conformity

A central theme in the book is the impact of societal expectations and the pressure to conform to predetermined norms. Through Astrid's experiences, the author provides insight into the constraints placed on individuals by societal standards, prompting readers to contemplate the limitations of conformity.

Authentic Relationships and Love

The novel explores the nature of authentic relationships and the complexities of love. Astrid's quest for genuine connections and her exploration of her feelings for Dee offer profound insights into the nature of human connection and the pursuit of meaningful relationships.

Reader's Takeaway

"Ask the Passengers" offers readers a compelling narrative that delves into the depths of identity, love, and societal expectations. Through Astrid's journey, readers gain valuable insights into the challenges of self-acceptance, the impact of conformity, and the pursuit of authentic relationships. The novel prompts reflection on the complexities of human experience and the universal desire for understanding and acceptance.


In "Ask the Passengers," A.S. King weaves a captivating tale of self-discovery, love, and the search for authenticity. Through Astrid's experiences, the author delivers a thought-provoking narrative that resonates with readers, addressing themes of identity, societal expectations, and the pursuit of genuine connections. The novel's engaging plot and well-developed characters make it a compelling read that offers valuable insights into the complexities of human relationships and the universal quest for self-acceptance.

Ask the Passengers FAQ

  1. What is the genre of 'Ask the Passengers'?

    The genre of 'Ask the Passengers' is young adult fiction.

  2. Who is the author of 'Ask the Passengers'?

    The author of 'Ask the Passengers' is A.S. King.

  3. What is the main theme of 'Ask the Passengers'?

    The main themes of 'Ask the Passengers' include identity, love, and societal expectations.

  4. What is the story about?

    The story follows a high school student named Astrid Jones who is struggling with her identity and feelings of isolation in her small town. She starts sending her love to the passengers in the airplanes flying overhead, and the novel explores her journey of self-discovery and acceptance.

  5. Is 'Ask the Passengers' suitable for young adult readers?

    Yes, 'Ask the Passengers' is a young adult novel that addresses important themes and is suitable for young adult readers.