Reading Level: Young Adult
Genre: Magical Realism
Length: 8 hours and 9 minutes (336 pages)
Publisher: Listening Library
Release Date: October 22, 2012
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone
Source: Audiobook from Audible.com
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
This is one of the few AS King books I haven’t read and I was excited to finally pick it up to read. It ended up being a very engaging book but didn’t have as much magical realism as King’s other books have had.
I listened to this on audiobook and the audiobook was very well done. The narrator sounded exactly like I imagined the main character would sound and did a good job of conveying emotion.
Astrid Jones has a secret; she is in love with a girl she works with. They steal secret kisses in the freezer room and secret moments by the lake. Astrid wants to confide in someone; but her mom is too pushy, and her constantly stoned dad isn’t interested. Her best friend, who is also gay, wants to put Astrid in a neatly labeled gay box. Astrid doesn’t know if she is gay or if she just happens to be in love with a girl and she is struggling. To cope she goes and lays out on a picnictable in her backyard and sends her love to the passengers that fly over her in airplanes.
This story has a lot of interesting elements to it. Astrid lives in a small town and moved there from New York City. She is adjusting to the small town vibe and with how vicious rumors are in that setting.
Astrid is also really into philosophy and is taking a honors humanities course; to help her cope with all the pain and trouble around her she’s made herself an imaginary friend name Frank Socrates that she can talk to.
When Astrid sends her love to the passengers in the plane we occasionally get a glimpse into one of the passengers lives and what they are dealing with. This was interesting and I was impressed with how quickly I became engaged with these airplane passengers’ stories and wanted to know more about them.
As with other of King’s novels there is a bit of magical realism. When Astrid sends her love to a passenger the passenger actually seems to be affected by her questions/love/concern in some way. Also Astrid seems to see Frank Socrates hanging around sometimes (although she admits he is in her imagination).
Mostly though this story is about society and definition and expectations of society. It’s about how much people need labels and boxes to make themselves feel in control. It’s also about a teenage girl who is struggling to figure out what it means to be gay and what it means to be in love.
Overall this was another incredibly well done AS King novel that breaches a number of societal questions while providing an engaging story with a heroine you really care about. I continue to be impressed with how much King can pack into a story and with how much these books leave me to think about. The story and characters are completely engaging and very hard to put down. I would highly recommend everyone read this book. We can all stand to learn more about tolerance and equality.