Review Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King

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Lucky Linderman didn’t ask for his life. He didn’t ask his grandfather not to come home from the Vietnam War. He didn’t ask for a father who never got over it. He didn’t ask for a mother who keeps pretending their dysfunctional family is fine. And he didn’t ask to be the target of Nader McMillan’s relentless bullying, which has finally gone too far.

But Lucky has a secret–one that helps him wade through the daily mundane torture of his life. In his dreams, Lucky escapes to the war-ridden jungles of Laos–the prison his grandfather couldn’t escape–where Lucky can be a real man, an adventurer, and a hero. It’s dangerous and wild, and it’s a place where his life just might be worth living. But how long can Lucky keep hiding in his dreams before reality forces its way inside?

Michael L. Printz Honor recipient A.S. King’s smart, funny and boldly original writing shines in this powerful novel about learning to cope with the shrapnel life throws at you and taking a stand against it.

Genre: YA Fiction/Magical Realism
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: October 3, 2011
Page Count: 279
Source: My copy.
Rating: 4.5/5

Generally, during my reading experience with a book, I have something (or somethings) to think or to say about it along the way. With Everybody Sees the Ants, I was at a loss for thoughts. I could only focus all my energy on the heartbreaking story and the author’s way of pulling you into it head first.

Our Lucky Linderman is not only likable, but lovable. He is a kid who is bullied to the breaking point and, because of his mentally-absent parents (they’re there, but not really there), only has his dreams of the jungle and his beloved granddad in which to escape. And yet he doesn’t appear to feel sorry for himself. He does, actually, feel sorry for himself, and feels thatsomeone, anyone should help him, but doesn’t come across as whiny or helpless. How Lucky feels, is how it should be. Yet it’s not. And that’s what infuriated me most about this book. There are so many adults around who are willing to punish him for his expression and deem him depressed, but no one willing to stand up to this bully (who not only bullies, but is responsible for sexual assault).

“It got him in trouble.”

“Yeah, well, it got me in fucking trouble, too, and if he doesn’t watch himself, he’s going to be in more trouble. Those rumors about him rushing girls are going to land him in jail if he’s not careful.”

He laughed. “It’s not illegal. The only reason girls have tits is so we can grab ’em, right?”

What do you say to this? What do you say to an idiot who’d repeat anything Nader told him?

I said nothing.

That day was my monthly guidance meeting, and it took everything I had not to tell the guidance counselor about Charlotte’s completed questionnaires. I did mention the groping rumors, though.

“Does it bother you?” the counselor asked.

“It bothers me that no one is doing anything about it,” I said.

“Believe me, if we acted on every rumor that went around this place, we’d never have time to do our jobs.”

This pretty much sent me over the edge. Reading this, I was a raving lunatic. You wouldn’t have time to do your job. What exactly is your job, lady? Because I don’t know about you, but my idea of a school is somewhere children can be safe. And if they cannot count on the adults to enforce that, who can they count on?

The slight paranormal element to this story gave a glimpse of hope. At first I thought it didn’t belong in this novel, but eventually it just melted in and worked. It was like magic without the story actually being magical. It reminded me of Sarah Addison Allen’s books, which I love.

(removed for spoilers)

King is a very talented writer. I think she took a real issue such as bullying and weaved in self-discovery to a teenager who is such a great kid, he is destined to be a great man, despite his family problems. It’s one of the most realistic novels I’ve read in a long time. The title of the book is absolutely brilliant and encompasses the entire story. I’ve been wanting to read her work for a while, and am so glad I did. I’ll be picking up her other books very soon.

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About Lulie

Call me Lu. I'm a newbie book blogger and self-professed literature addict. Love my husband, my cat, and my books. View all posts by Lulie

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