Everybody Sees the Ants
By A.S. King
Little, Brown, 2011. 282 pgs. Young Adult
Fifteen-year-old Lucky Linderman has been bullied by Nader McMillan for pretty much his entire life, and several of his teachers are convinced that he's suicidal. To make matters worse, his father (who Lucky calls a turtle) just wants to ignore it and is emotionally crippled by the fact that his father, a Vietnam POW, never made it back from the war. Lucky escapes his life through dreams of his grandfather, still stuck in Vietnam, and different ways that he tries to rescue him, which he sees as his life's mission. When Nader bullies Lucky yet again, Lucky's mother, who normally agrees with his father in an attempt to keep the peace, finally reaches a breaking point; she drags Lucky across the country to visit his aunt and uncle for a few weeks. While there, Lucky faces up to his life in a way that he never has before.
I really liked this book's messages about bullying, suicide, and taking control of one's life. I didn't particularly care for the symbolism of the ants, though, and Lucky's dreams about his grandfather were a little weird to me; I guess I couldn't suspend disbelief enough to really enjoy that part of the story. There's some language, violence, and sexuality that will make this book too intense for some readers, and yet, I feel like it was realistic to the story that was portrayed. I recommend this one to readers who like an underdog and are looking for something thought-provoking.