288 pp. Little, Brown and Company 2011
Source: ARC gifted by a friend
Release Date: October 3, 2011
Summary (From Goodreads):
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 family is fine. And he certainly didn’t ask to be the recipient of Nadar McMillan’s relentless bullying, which has finally gone too far.
Lucky has a secret—one that helps him wade through the daily dysfunction of his life. Grandad Harry, trapped in the jungles of Laos, has been visiting Lucky in his dreams—and the dreams just might be real: an alternate reality where he can be whoever he wants to be and his life might still be worth living. But how long can Lucky remain in hiding there before reality forces its way inside?
Printz Honor recipient A. S. King’s distinctive, smart, and accessible writing shines in this powerful novel about learning to cope with the shrapnel life throws at you, and then taking a stand against it.
I need to say this first–Everybody Sees the Ants is one of the BEST books I’ve read. I was completely engrossed in this novel and couldn’t put it down. Pre-order a copy of this book, ask your librarian to get a copy for your library, mark its release on your calendars.
Lucky Linderman is an underdog that deserves so much more from life. He’s constantly bullied by Nadar McMillan, he feels misunderstood by his parents, and he’s haunted in his dreams by his POW grandfather whom he’s never met. Nadar’s bullying actually gets pretty extreme, so Lucky’s mom decides to take him to Arizona so they can stay with her brother and sister-in-law. This is when we learn quite a bit about Lucky and just how layered and troubled he is. He’s on the innocent side of the spectrum when it comes to teenage boys, which makes him even more endearing. Lucky isn’t oblivious to what people say about him either. His aunt openly says how she worries about him being at-risk. I loved it when Lucky had a witty comeback for her, whether he said it aloud or to himself. Lucky Linderman is a character that I cheered for throughout the entire novel. He needs self-esteem and the confidence to speak up for himself.
A.S. King did something different by having Lucky see the ants. I can’t say for sure what the ants are exactly, but I pictured them as Lucky’s cheering squad that he could imagine during tough situations. The ants weren’t present throughout the whole book, but by the time they entered the story I knew how badly Lucky needed them. He doesn’t really have any friends or people he feels he can rely on until he gets to Arizona. There, along with the ants, he bonds with his uncle and meets the mysterious girl next door. After one scene about 3/4 of the way into the book, I was so shocked and heart broken I had to put the book down; this scene took my breath away and I needed a minute to digest what I read. I was already impressed by A.S. King as I was reading this book, but these scenes really impressed me.
I pictured so many of my students when I read this book. I can think of quiet students who I know have a lot to say that will want to read this book. I can picture some of my students who love a great contemporary/realistic fiction novel that will love this book. I can picture my students who have been bullied who will connect with Lucky. I really hope you’ll read Everybody Sees the Ants when it releases in October.