I have such an odd relationship with this book. On one hand, I loved it, just as I’ve loved King’s other novels. On the other hand... while it does do a very good job of portraying a gay teen and the hurdles that it can throw at you, it also doesn’t acknowledge some of the things that come with it as well. And yet I loved it despite that, and I think that’s a testament to King’s strength and talent as a writer. For the good things first, I do love Astrid and her journey in this book. Her voice was crystal clear and well defined, a slightly bitter teenage girl with a whole bunch of family problems. I loved the idea of her sending her love to airplanes and the passengers inside, and the little tidbits we get from those passengers were heartwarming. I enjoyed the magical realism of it, though it may be a little out there for some readers. I’ve always personally enjoyed the magical realism in King’s works, and here was no different. The secondary characters I enjoyed too, because everyone in this book feels like an actual person, even those who don’t have much presence in the book like Astrid’s not-boyfriend Jeff. Her best friend, Kristina, was another great character, even when she made choices that weren't great but were understandable with where they came from. I’ve seen some other reviews say it was disappointing that the issues with her mother never get resolved, but honestly, I liked that spark of realism. Sometimes a person is just an awful parent and there’s nothing you can do about it, because the damage is too deep to ever really heal. Sometimes things don’t resolved in real life. It sucks, but it happens. So that part didn’t bother me in the least. The only part that really did bother me was how Dee, Astrid’s sort-of-girlfriend in the start, would ignore Astrid’s repeated attempts and protests against sex. She’s not ready for it and when she stops Dee’s hand from going into her pants, Dee should stop. It made it difficult for me to really like them as a couple, and worse, it made me wary that it was going to fall into unpleasant stereotypes about lesbians. King does eventually turn this on its head and shows Dee’s actions in a negative light, and Dee does eventually realize it’s wrong and get over it, but it was one sour note in the midst of a lot of good ones. While some of the messages may have been a little hamfisted at times, honestly, they’re the kind of messages that deserve to be. The overall setting and story isn’t entirely original--small town girl who’s gay and somehow this gets found out and she needs to deal with the consequences of it--but it’s the magical realism and the characters and the strength of the writing that makes it original. Now for where it gets confusing for me. Overall, I loved this book and how it handled the issues and terrifying experiences a gay teen can go through. It’s not often I have to put a book down and just sigh in utter happiness because there are two characters like me who are happy and slow dancing with each other and just being so in love. That’s a big deal to me, it really is. But I do think King did misstep in one aspect of the book: Astrid, for all her worrying about coming out and being forcibly outed and all, doesn’t stop to think if any of these small town bigots might end up hurting her. While I’m a big proponent of not living your life in fear, unfortunately this is something that homosexual people still have to consider when coming out. Sometimes, coming out just isn’t an option due to where you live or who you live with. There’s taking pride in who you are and doing what you need to in order to stay alive. Sometimes those simple small town bullies turn out to be people who can hurt you, and badly. Not everyone can loudly come out to her entire school by shouting “I’m fucking gay!” The aspect of “sexually assaulting the gay out of her” is touched upon twice in the books, by a classmate of Astrid’s at one point, but the fear that maybe someone may come after her isn’t. And while it’s refreshing on one hand to read a gay teen who isn’t afraid of that, on the other, King was going for a realistic portrayal of one, and so this oversight is a big one to me. Was it enough to ruin the book? No, obviously not, because I’m still singing its praises days after having read it. But I do think it’s worth noting. Overall, I did enjoy this book despite some of the setbacks, and King hasn’t let me down yet. This may be my favourite book of hers, besides The Dust of 100 Dogs.