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Review: Everybody Sees the Ants (A.S. King)

Title: Everybody Sees the Ants
Author: A.S.King
Genre: YA fiction
Pages: 282
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
FTC Disclosure: I borrowed this from my school library
Summary (from the inside flap of the book): Lucky Linderman doesn't want to wake up.... Lucky Linder 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 whenever 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?

Review: I have seen a ton of reviews of this book online and since they were all favorable I got this book for my school library and took it before it hit the shelves for the students to read. Bad librarian. Justification? Now I can recommend it to them better since I've read it. Do you like that?

I have never read a book by A.S. King (yes, I know, I must read Please Ignore Vera Dietz), but I am impressed. I cared about Lucky from page one and the other characters are believable and I understood them even when I didn't like them or their behavior. Bullying is such a sensitive topic and King handles it well, showing the impact on the bully, the victim, and the victim's family. Lucky's response is so good: he tells various people what is going on, but doesn't admit to the worst of the bullying because it is so humiliating. The adults in his life are too nervous to do anything significant and the bullying continues. Unfortunately, the school personnel are afraid of law suits, which seems to drive their actions (or inaction).

The issue of suicide is also ever present in this book, showing that Lucky is not the only one who is having a tough time. If they all just spoke out....

The ants. They appear as a humorous bunch who give Lucky advice, comment on the events in the book and are present in Lucky's mind. They did confuse me a bit I'll confess, but they didn't detract from my enjoyment of the book. This is also true of the time Lucky spends trying to save his grandfather who is a POW/MIA. I don't want to say too much about this part of the story as it will give away the deeper issues that Lucky (and all of us) deal with.
Geography Connection

Click to see my updated Google Map. As the year draws to an end I look at my Google Reading map and I am pleased to see thumbtacks spread out over the map. However, I do wish there was more variety so I am cheating a little bit on this one. The book takes place in equal parts in Pennsylvania (where Lucky lives and is bullied), Arizona (where he goes for a month with his mom to escape), and Laos where Lucky goes in his dreams to save his grandfather. And, I don't have tacks in any of these places!

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