- The attention to detail. The way King describes everything--actions, settings, people, situations--is artful and makes you feel like you're looking at a picture rather than reading a book.
- The imperfections. Astrid's family is broken in a very relatable way--she and her sister have drifted apart, her mother is trying to live a small-town dream life through her youngest daughter, her dad is too stoned to be helpful in almost every situation. Because of these imperfections, all the characters in the story feel like real people, making it compulsively readable.
- The passenger stories. Each time Astrid sends her love to a passenger, we get a very brief glimpse into their life. Despite their extremely short length, these stories were self-contained and just as well-written as the overarching story.
- The self-discovery. This story is really about Astrid's struggle to find out who she really is and push back on the stereotypes and boxes the people in her small town and trying to force on her. King describes this journey in such a genuine, honest way that the overall message of "be yourself, do what makes you happy, don't let other people bring you down" was very subtle and didn't beat the reader over the head as is the case with so many books like this written for young adults.
- The Socrates cameos. As someone who adores philosophy and Socrates in particular, I loved the references to his works and his cameos in Astrid's life throughout the book. Very cute!
"Anyway, you'd have never known if I didn't tell you in the first place. You'd think I was still an androgynous bookworm."
"Hold on. You're not an androgynous bookworm?" she ask, and pulls out her phone. "Shit. I need to update my files."
This book was so beautifully written and honest. Astrid felt more like a friend from down the street than a character in a book, and the way she bravely challenges the stereotypes her town attempts to force upon her is an inspiration to everyone.