Let me first tell you about "The Cave Allegory" in The Republic By by Plato, and then I will get to how this figures in with my review. The primary premise is that there are people chained to a wall who can only see shadows on that wall. The shadows on that wall is their reality and all they know. It isn't till one of the prisoners breaks free of the chains and goes to the outside world and comes back and finds that the reality that he always known is in fact not real. It is an illusion of fire and and object. The former prisoner tries to reason with the other prisoners to tell them that their reality is not what they believe it to be, but they do not listen.What does the Cave Allegory have to do with this book? In the eternal words of Yoda: everything. The allegory is used as a symbol throughout the book and a basis for the plot of the book, where our main character Astrid Jones is contemplating her life through her questioning sexuality and her relationship with her friends, family, and the town that she lives in. A.S King writes a breath of fresh air into the YA genre. I know she is known for "Everybody See the Ants," which I have not read but will sometime soon. She writes more introspective pieces that are intelligent and widely real. Astrid is a character I wish was I knew when I was in high school, when the same questions of my own reality were slipping away from me. This is not a plot heavy book, but it is entirely centered on themes, character development, symbolism, and tone. It's a wonderful piece of young adult fiction and what I love the most are the characters of Astrid, Dee, her (stoner) father, and even Kristina to an extent. Her mother, well even though Astrid made amends with her, I'm not such a big fan. The main plot line is that Astrid Jones is a senior in high school, facing a metaphysical crisis in her life. With her workaholic (and bitch of a mother), a "perfect" younger sister, stoner father who has no backbone, and originally from the big city of New York City and not a small town in Pennsylvania. She is questioning herself in regards to her sexuality and to how she views life, in her A.P Humanities class she studies philosophy and it is through studying philosophy that she starts to unravel her life through what she studies. This book reminds me of a line said by bell hooks: "I came to theory because I was hurting-the pain was so intense that I could not go on living. I came to theory desperate, wanting to comprehend--to grasp what was happening around and within me. Most importantly I wanted to make the hurt to go away. I saw in theory then a location for healing."--In Chapter Five of Theory as Liberatory Practice For Astrid, philosophy is a way to make sense of her world, and that is why I love this book. A lot of authors use speculative fiction such as fantasy and science fiction as an allegory to real life, but sometimes I hunger for a more introspective approach. The narrator is Astrid and she is real, flawed, and beautiful in her own voice. She is not pretentious nor insipid. She does make mistakes, and she learns from them. She is a character that is fully realized and has crawled into my heart and is just sitting there. This book makes you think. It isn't just a "coming-out book" it is a book about real relationships with friends, family, and lovers and about being honest with you who are and where you stand. The writing is excellent and it seems effortless in wrapping you into the story. The novel is not very long, and I found it quite compelling all the way through. Not knowing what I was about to get into, I was very surprised with what I got. It's a lovely read and I recommend it to everyone. A.S King has gotten into the ranks of one of my favorite writers of all time in any genre, not just YA. Beautiful. Just beautiful. Now, I want to meet A.S King and have a discussion with her on this book. I think it would be riveting.