Book Trailer Thursday (182)–I Crawl Through It by A.S. King

Book Trailer Thursday

I didn’t know about the book trailer for I Crawl Through It by A.S. King until Gae Polisner posted a Facebook status about the book the other night. I’m embarrassed to admit that I haven’t read A.S. King’s most recent release, especially since I adore her novels, but I’m still excited to share this book trailer with my students because I think it will really grab some of them. She’s an incredibly smart and talented author that I want more of my students to discover and appreciate. Also, it’s awesome that e.E. Charlton-Trujillo created this trailer.

I Crawl Through ItSummary (From Goodreads):

Our big explosion is coming any day now. Can’t you hear the ticking?

Four teenagers are on the verge of exploding. The anxieties they face at every turn have nearly pushed them to the point of surrender: senseless high-stakes testing, the lingering damage of past trauma, the buried grief and guilt of tragic loss. They are desperate to cope, but no one is listening.

Tick.

So they will lie. They will split in two. They will turn inside out. They will even build an invisible helicopter to fly themselves far away…but nothing releases the pressure. Because, as they discover, the only way to truly escape their world is to fly right into it.

Tick.

The genius of acclaimed author A.S. King reaches new heights in this groundbreaking work of surrealist fiction; it will mesmerize readers with its deeply affecting exploration of how we crawl through traumatic experience—and find the way out.

Tick.

Top Ten Tuesday Freebie: Strong Female Protagonists

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish

It has been a LONG time since I’ve written a Top Ten Tuesday post! I love that today happens to be a freebie because I’m working on a new bulletin board for my classroom. Four out of five of my classes are seniors and since they’re gone for the school year and I’m going to be on maternity leave at the beginning of next school year, I want to use some of my extra time putting together bulletin boards for next year. I really doubt bulletin boards are going to be a high priority when I’m ready to pop. 🙂

Anyway, in April I posted the survey results about whether my girls see themselves in what they’re reading. One of the questions I asked them is what they’d love to see in the books they’re reading and a majority of them wish to see strong female characters (their definitions of this vary). Back in February I created a bulletin board featuring book recommendations based on what my students are reading and interested in reading. I’ve decided to merge these two ideas; one section of the bulletin board will feature some strong female characters that my girls are searching for. I’m also thinking about adding a section that features girls in YA who play various sports. Of course, those two ideas can easily be one in the same.

1. The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson (Goodreads): Elisa isn’t your average royal YA fantasy character. She’s a little bit insecure, she’s very religious, and she’s fat (she describes herself this way). What I love about her, however, is that throughout the first book and the series itself she becomes increasingly self-reliant and a strong leader.

2. Ask the Passengers by A.S. King (Goodreads): A.S. King is one of my favorite authors for reasons like this book and Astrid’s story. Astrid is a character who sees beyond labels, especially those that label sexuality, and simply wants to find herself and where she fits in the world. Plenty of readers will be able to connect with her.

3. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart (Goodreads): Frankie is still one of my favorite characters and for good reason, too. She’s smart, independent, and full of spunk. I also like that this book features a strong female protagonist and is light-hearted at the same time.

4. The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson (Goodreads): One of the things I like about this book is that while there’s a romance, it’s not the center of the story. The main focus of the story is how Hayley is dealing with her father’s PTSD and in turn her own PTSD from dealing with her father. She’s self-reliant almost to a fault. Her journey through this story is touching.

5. Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys (Goodreads): I can’t imagine growing up with a prostitute as a mother, especially living in a brothel. Like many of the characters on this list, Josie is independent, smart, and strong-willed. This is an excellent piece of historical fiction and example of how strong a YA character can be.

6. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black (Goodreads): Tana’s wakes up as the only one living after vampires attack a party she attended so she takes a huge risk by entering Coldtown to save a few of the other survivors. Tana is tough, resourceful, and resilient. This is a vampire book and Tana is no Bella Swan.

7. We Are the Goldens by Dana Rheinhardt (Goodreads): This just released today and thankfully I had the ARC to read already. This is a great story about the power of sibling relationships. Nell is extremely close to her older sister Layla, but because of a secret Layla’s keeping, Nell is being pushed away and is forced to figure out who she is without her sister.

8. Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John (Goodreads): I really like Piper. I like that she’s deaf and managing a band. I like that she’s looking out for her little sister and trying to connect with her family. This is a fun, engaging, heartwarming book.

9. Sold by Patricia McCormick (Goodreads): Surviving being sold into prostitution. Enough said.

10. Dirty Little Secrets by C.J. Omololu (Goodreads): Have you seen the show Hoarders? Reading Lucy’s story is like watching an episode of Hoarders. Her mom has suddenly died in their home and Lucy feels it’s up to her to keep her mom’s secret and clean up their home before anyone arrives to get her mother’s body. Talk about strong and independent.

Review: Reality Boy by A.S. King

Reality BoyTitle: Reality Boy

Author: A.S. King

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Release Date: October 22nd, 2013

Interest: Author / Contemp / Guy appeal

Source: ARC received from the publisher

Summary (From Goodreads):

Gerald Faust knows exactly when he started feeling angry: the day his mother invited a reality television crew into his five-year-old life. Twelve years later, he’s still haunted by his rage-filled youth—which the entire world got to watch from every imaginable angle—and his anger issues have resulted in violent outbursts, zero friends, and clueless adults dumping him in the special education room at school.

Nothing is ever going to change. No one cares that he’s tried to learn to control himself, and the girl he likes has no idea who he really is. Everyone’s just waiting for him to snap…and he’s starting to feel dangerously close to doing just that.

In this fearless portrayal of a boy on the edge, highly acclaimed Printz Honor author A.S. King explores the desperate reality of a former child “star” who finally breaks free of his anger by creating possibilities he never knew he deserved.

A.S. King sold me on Reality Boy when she read the prologue during an author event at one of my local indies. It was engaging and something I knew I could read to my students to sell them as well. But honestly, I don’t need A.S. King to sell me on any of her books because I’ll read anything she writes. Her books are awesome.

Reality Boy is a book that will resonate with a variety of my students. I know I can hand it to my students who are dealing with anger issues. They’ll relate with Gerald and appreciate his struggles. Hopefully they’ll find that they’re not alone and can change for the better. Hopefully they’ll seek help if they haven’t already. I know I can hand it to my students who have a tough life at home. On the outside it probably looks like Gerald’s life is a good one. Appearances can be deceiving, and while not all of my students come from deceivingly happy homes, many of them deal with tough home lives. Again, Gerald will let them know that they’re not alone. He’ll give them hope. I know I can hand Reality Boy to my students who simply want to read a great story. Gerald will provide them with that.

Back to the appearances can be deceiving point. I’ve read some criticisms that Gerald’s stint on reality TV wasn’t that big of a deal since it aired when he was so young and that he was only on a couple episodes. Those are valid points, but I think the reality TV focus goes a little deeper than that. Gerald’s experience with reality TV drives the point home that appearances can be deceiving. The bigger point to those episodes is what viewers, and even his parents, don’t see. No one sees how messed up his family is. Yes, it’s bad that Gerald was going to the bathroom wherever he wanted to, but what was happening with his sister was even worse. His parents, especially his mother, are blind to what’s really happening in their own home.  There are a number of reasons for this and sadly it’s affected Gerald’s state of well-being and even his education. In my opinion, A.S. King is asking her readers to pay more attention and to be empathetic. I could be wrong, but that’s what I took away from reading Reality Boy.

This is yet another excellent book written by an excellent author. I hope you’ll read it and share it with others.

Waiting on Wednesday–Reality Boy by A.S. King

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine.  It’s designed for bloggers to spotlight the upcoming releases that they simply can’t wait to read.

newwow2

A.S. King is one of my all-time favorite authors; I’ve enjoyed every one of her books that I’ve read.  She was at Nicola’s Books in Ann Arbor last month talking about Ask the Passengers, and she also read us the prologue of Reality Boy.  She had us laughing so much that I snorted in the middle of her reading. Talk about embarrassing!  But that also goes to show how much I enjoyed the beginning of her book.  I’m positive the rest is just as great.

Reality BoyTitle & Author: Reality Boy by A.S. King

Release Date: October 22nd, 2013

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Summary (From Goodreads): Gerald Faust knows exactly when he started feeling angry: the day his mother invited a reality television crew into his five-year-old life. Twelve years later, he’s still haunted by his rage-filled youth—which the entire world got to watch from every imaginable angle—and his anger issues have resulted in violent outbursts, zero friends, and clueless adults dumping him in the special education room at school.

Nothing is ever going to change. No one cares that he’s tried to learn to control himself, and the girl he likes has no idea who he really is. Everyone’s just waiting for him to snap…and he’s starting to feel dangerously close to doing just that.

In this fearless portrayal of a boy on the edge, highly acclaimed Printz Honor author A.S. King explores the desperate reality of a former child “star” who finally breaks free of his anger by creating possibilities he never knew he deserved.

Flash Reviews (20)

Personal EffectsTitle: Personal Effects

Author: E.M. Kokie

Source: Finished copy received at ALAN Workshop

Summary (From Goodreads):

After his older brother dies in Iraq, Matt makes a discovery that rocks his beliefs about strength, bravery, and honor in this page-turning debut.

Ever since his brother, T.J., was killed in Iraq, Matt feels like he’s been sleepwalking through life — failing classes, getting into fights, and avoiding his dad’s lectures about following in his brother’s footsteps. T.J.’s gone, but Matt can’t shake the feeling that if only he could get his hands on his brother’s stuff from Iraq, he’d be able to make sense of his death. But as Matt searches for answers about T.J.’s death, he faces a shocking revelation about T.J.’s life that suggests he may not have known T.J. as well as he thought. What he learns challenges him to stand up to his father, honor his brother’s memory, and take charge of his own life. With compassion, humor, and a compelling narrative voice, E. M. Kokie explores grief, social mores, and self-discovery in a provocative first novel.

Flash Review:

Personal Effects is a strong debut, so strong that I’m looking forward to reading more of E.M. Kokie’s books.  Matt is a a well-written character with a believable male voice; Personal Effects will appeal to both my male and female students.  I loved watching his character grow and I enjoyed the supporting characters as well.  I do think there’s slightly too much focus on T.J. and the answers Matt discovers.  I appreciated this part of the story, but I wanted more from Matt at the end of the book and less of T.J.  T.J.’s story overshadows Matt’s towards the end.

Also, is it just me or is the “tough military dad” trope getting old?  I understand why Matt’s dad is written this way and how it’s necessary to the story, but overall I’m bored with it, especially with all of the military YA being released.  There has to be some kind military fathers out there, right?

Overall, Kokie has written a solid and enjoyable book that I know my students will love.

Ask the PassengersTitle: Ask the Passengers

Author: A.S. King

Source: ARC received from the publisher

Summary (From Goodreads): Astrid Jones desperately wants to confide in someone, but her mother’s pushiness and her father’s lack of interest tell her they’re the last people she can trust. Instead, Astrid spends hours lying on the backyard picnic table watching airplanes fly overhead. She doesn’t know the passengers inside, but they’re the only people who won’t judge her when she asks them her most personal questions . . . like what it means that she’s falling in love with a girl.

As her secret relationship becomes more intense and her friends demand answers, Astrid has nowhere left to turn. She can’t share the truth with anyone except the people at thirty thousand feet, and they don’t even know she’s there. But little does Astrid know just how much even the tiniest connection will affect these strangers’ lives–and her own–for the better.

In this truly original portrayal of a girl struggling to break free of society’s definitions, Printz Honor author A.S. King asks readers to question everything–and offers hope to those who will never stop seeking real love.

Flash Review:

There’s a reason A.S. King is one of my favorite authors and Ask the Passengers is a prime example.  She really knows how to write true, honest characters that resonate with readers.  Astrid is a wonderful character who wants to send love to people, even to the passengers on the airplanes above.  She’s loyal to her friends and patient with her family even when they treat her poorly.  Readers will connect with Astrid because she’s so easy to like and understand.

What I really like about Ask the Passengers is the way Astrid looks at love.  She doesn’t want to be defined as a lesbian because 1. she doesn’t know if she really is or not, and 2. she wants to be able to love who she loves; she doesn’t think there needs to be a label.  In this case, Astrid is trying to figure out who she is while also trying to figure out when/if to tell her friends and family.  There’s pressure on both ends which really drives the story and develops both Astrid and the supporting characters.  I love it when more than just the main character shows growth; A.S. King wrote many of the supporting characters as more than static characters.

I absolutely loved this book and hope it gets more acclaim than it already has.  If you haven’t read any of A.S. King’s books, Ask the Passengers is a great place to start.

 

As always, thank you for the Flash Reviews idea, GreenBeanTeenQueen!

Favorite Books of 2012

To be honest, this has been kind of a tough reading year for me.  I finished my Masters, I’ve been working on feeling better and getting healthier, and I’ve been working my butt off in my classroom (new classes, new units, etc.).  I’ve still read a large amount of books, but I’m hoping 2013 will be a smoother, easier reading year.

Putting this list together wasn’t any easier this year than it was last year, but I’m happy with the group of books I’ve decided on.  This is a list of the ten books that have stayed with me this year.  They aren’t numbered in any particular order.

Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood (Goodreads)–I’ve blogged about this debut quite a few times this year and it’s because it’s just that good.  I love the time period, the romance, the magic, the characters, etc.  The sequel doesn’t release until later in 2013 unfortunately, but it will be worth the wait.

Embrace by Jessica Shirvington (Goodreads)–I still enjoy reading paranormal fantasy, but it’s not as alluring as it used to be.  Jessica Shirvington’s Embrace series, however, has held my interest because it’s exciting, mysterious, and oh-so-swoonworthy.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater (Goodreads)–Maggie Stiefvater is a rock star.  I love the magical realism in this story and even though I read this over the summer, I’m still thinking about the characters and the awesome ending.

Born WickedEmbraceThe Raven Boys

Leverage by Joshua C. Cohen (Goodreads)–This actually released in 2011, but I didn’t read it until this year.  If you haven’t read it yet, and you can handle a gut-wrenching story about bullying, I highly recommend you get a copy.  It recently released in paperback which helps a book budget.  The characters in this book are sure to stay with you for a long time after you finish reading it.

Ask the Passengers by A.S. King (Goodreads)–I just read this a couple days ago, and I knew it had to go on this list.  There’s a reason A.S. King is one of my absolute favorite authors and Astrid’s story is now one of my top reasons.

Wonder by R.J. Palacio (Goodreads)–This is technically a middle grade title, and I did read it with my ears, but Auggie’s story is for everyone of all ages.  This is an incredibly touching story that begs to be read by everyone.

LeverageAsk the PassengersWonder Book Cover

Easy by Tammara Webber (Goodreads)–If you’re new to the world of New Adult like I am, I suggest starting with Easy.  This book is seriously awesome and one I could not put down.  I love the character growth, the steamy romance, the setting, everything.

Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters by Meredith Zeitlin (Goodreads)–Sometimes I need a lighthearted book that will make me smile and laugh.  This debut did all of that and more.  I love reading it to my YA Lit classes because it works well as a read aloud and it’s that much fun to read over and over again.

Boy21 by Matthew Quick (Goodreads)–I’ve praised this book over and over again and I won’t stop.  It’s a great story about friendship, loyalty, self-discovery, and family.  I hope you read it.

Something Like Normal by Trish Doller (Goodreads)–As soon as I finished this debut I knew it was going to be a 2012 favorite.  But let’s be honest, it’s an all-time favorite.  I’m still thinking about Travis and Harper and I read this back in the spring.  Trish Doller is an author to watch.

easyFreshman Year & Other Unnatural DisastersBoy21Something Like Normal

Waiting on Wednesday–Ask the Passengers by A.S. King

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine.  It’s designed for bloggers to spotlight the upcoming releases that they simply can’t wait to read.

I’m a huge fan of A.S. King, so when I found out about her upcoming release, Ask the Passengers, I immediately added it on Goodreads.  She is a stellar author who really knows how to write a fantastic piece of contemporary Y.A.  If you haven’t read any of her books, I highly recommend you do so this summer.  I’m still enjoying my summer vacation, but I am eager for October to get here now that I know about this new book.  And would you look at that cover?!  There’s just something about it that I love.

Title & Author: Ask the Passengers by A.S. King

Release Date: October 23rd, 2012

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Summary (From Goodreads): Astrid Jones copes with her small town’s gossip and narrow-mindedness by staring at the sky and imagining that she’s sending love to the passengers in the airplanes flying high over her backyard. Maybe they’ll know what to do with it. Maybe it’ll make them happy. Maybe they’ll need it. Her mother doesn’t want it, her father’s always stoned, her perfect sister’s too busy trying to fit in, and the people in her small town would never allow her to love the person she really wants to: another girl named Dee. There’s no one Astrid feels she can talk to about this deep secret or the profound questions that she’s trying to answer. But little does she know just how much sending her love–and asking the right questions–will affect the passengers’ lives, and her own, for the better.

In this unmistakably original portrayal of a girl struggling to break free of society’s boxes and definitions, Printz Honor author A.S. King asks readers to question everything–and offers hope to those who will never stop seeking and sharing real love.

NCTE/ALAN 2011 Recap

From November 18th-21st I was in Chicago for the NCTE/ALAN Annual Convention.  I ended up going by myself again this year, but unlike last year, I stayed longer and had friends to hang out with the entire time.  It was an exhausting weekend because we were constantly busy going here, there, and everywhere, but it was completely worth it.  And did you know that lugging around 20 lbs of books really wears you out? Who knew?! 🙂

Jillian (@heisereads) and I met in real life (!) for breakfast Friday morning and went to most of the same sessions.  My first session was about using graphic novels in the classroom.  It was a fantastic way to start the day because all of the presenters brought great information to the table.  One of the presenters told us about how she uses Post-it Note Diaries by Arthur Jones as an introduction to teaching the personal essay.  You can find their handouts and presentation information on the NCTE Annual Convention website.  Actually, all of the presenters were encouraged to upload their materials to the website for those who couldn’t attend certain sessions and those who couldn’t attend the conference.  Anyway, I’ve been interested in reading more graphic novels and after this session I can’t wait to find ways to use them in my classroom.

Part of my first haul of books!

Jillian and I went to the second session together, but we ended up disappointed and left.  It was about bullying but the presenter came off as arrogant and most of what she said I disagreed with.  Jillian and I decided to head down to the exhibit hall, aka the dungeon, to get in line for the John Green signing.  Unfortunately he wasn’t signing ARCs of his newest book, but we did get a chapter sample.  The exhibits were crazy when they first opened!  I have to admit that I was embarrassed for some of the teachers there.  While we waited to be let in, there was a group of teachers standing in front of us with suitcases on wheels and game planning over how to get the most books.  I completely understand being excited about free/cheaper books, but these teachers ran into the exhibit hall and bombarded the booths.  I heard teachers walking up to people working the booths and asking them what they had for free.  Really?!  Jillian and I took our time talking with the editors, publicists, marketing team, etc to find out which books were their favorites and which books they recommend for our students.  It was an excellent way to find out about new books and we formed some relationships in the process.  And you know what?  The people we spoke with were more likely to offer us books after talking with us.  So yes, some of the teachers surprised me, but most of them were doing exactly the same thing as we did.

After lunch and taking some time to rest our shoulders after lugging around 15+ books each, we went to a session on teaching grammar better.  I was exhausted by this point and couldn’t retain that much information anymore.  I was happy to attend the session, though, because they had a PowerPoint prepared that we can use with out students and they also had some good ideas on making grammar more relevant for our students.  I even sent my department head a text letting her know about the session because so many of the teachers in my department are concerned with teaching grammar.

Me, S.J. Kincaid & Jillian

Friday night ended on a high note when Jillian and I went out to dinner with HarperCollins editor Molly O’Neill and upcoming debut author S.J. (Shelley) Kincaid.  Shelley’s debut novel, Insignia, releases in July, but we were fortunate enough to get an ARC before the conference.  If you work with teenage boys, make sure you get this book.  I know some girls will enjoy it, but I can’t wait to hand this novel to my reluctant boys and my sci-fi fans.  It’s full of action and humor and just a fun read (my review will be posted soon).  Molly also invited Becky Anderson of Anderson’s Bookshops and Becky’s daughter.  I’ve only heard great things about Becky’s stores, so it was really cool getting to meet and connect with her.  Shelley is wonderful and really intelligent.  After spending some time with her at dinner, I’m really looking forward to reading more of her books in the future.

I attended my first ALAN breakfast on Saturday morning.  I met more of my Twitter friends like Jen (@mentortexts), Kellee (@kellemoye), Mindi (@mindi_r) and so many more.  It was really cool meeting everyone for the first time!  The breakfast itself was a cool experience and I really enjoyed listening to Sharon Draper speak.  The best part of her speech was talking about how our life is our dash and we need to fill it with great stories.  What a wonderful way of looking at life.  Jilllian and I were constant buddies during the convention, so we perused the exhibits and met some authors during signings.  I met Laurie Halse Anderson and now have a signed copy of Speak (squee!).  My favorite session of the day was on writing and revision.  Four teachers presented their teaching writing and revising strategies.  One of the teachers uses NaNoWriMo in her classroom.  The way she does this is so cool and something I’d love to try.  Another teacher is using writing mini-lessons for different paper assignments and has stopped using letter grades.  She has a rubric for her students and grades them on Exceeding Expectations, Meeting Expectations, and Needs Improvement.  The students have pieces to work on according to different rubrics and are graded on their improvement during the trimester.  This way of teaching sounds like something I could adapt in my classroom, so I’m excited to check out her resources.  For information on using NaNoWriMo in your classroom check out her website: msansbach.wikispaces.com  If you want to learn more about eliminating letter grades and refocusing on writing as a process, check out her website: msshortlearnstwice.blogspot.com

Sara Zarr!

Saturday night was tons of fun because we had a Twitter friends dinner at Carnivale.  The food and drinks were delicious and the restaurant is bright and vibrant.  I was sitting at the end of the table with Katherine (@katsok), Cindy (@CBethM), Lea (@leakelley) and Chris (@ckervina).  At the other end of the table was Jillian, Aly (@alybee930), Cathy (@Cathy_Blackler), Mindi (@mindi_r) and Jillian.  The conversations were great and so was the experience in general.  I really miss my Twitter friends.

Picture from Jen's blog--Jillian, Jen & Me

Sunday and Monday were simply awesome.  There weren’t that many sessions on Sunday, but I did go to a good one about using YA in a traditional curriculum.  Some of the titles were outdated, but the ideas on discussing themes were very cool.  One of the presenters discussed the idea of using theory and heuristics. They also said their handouts would be on the convention website.  The best part of Sunday was the ALAN cocktail party.  I geeked out over so many authors!  I met Sarah Dessen, Stephanie Perkins, M.T. Anderson (because after meeting John Green & telling him a story of how his books and M.T. Anderson’s books hooked one of my boys John took me to meet him and tell him the story), and so many others!  I had a chance to talk with A.S. King which was awesome after how she and I have connected since I read and reviewed Everybody Sees the Ants.   The Twitter group met up with Donalyn Miller (@donalynbooks) and Teresa (@rdngteach) there as well.  Donalyn has no fear and helped us get the courage to approach some of the authors.  Heidi (@hmz1505), a librarian and blogger, spent a lot of time hanging out with us as well.  All of us had fangirly moments over different authors 🙂

A.S. King!!

Unfortunately I couldn’t stay for the entire ALAN portion of the convention.  I was there most of the day on Monday, but I had to head home since we had finals going on for the end of the trimester.  Listening to Matt de la Pena, Chris Crutcher, Sarah Dessen, and so many other authors speak was inspiring.  Our entire Twitter row was tweeting what the authors said like crazy.  Matt de la Pena was probably my favorite speaker of the day.  Besides the fact that he’s eloquent and thoughtful, he represents so many of our reluctant readers.  I’m really bummed that I missed Laurie Halse Anderson’s presentation.  I will admit that I was happy to return home because I missed Keith, my small cats, and I was exhausted.

Overall, I can’t encourage teachers enough to attend this conference in the future.  Next year it’s going to be in Las Vegas, so I’ll start saving after Christmas.  It’s the perfect way to connect with authors and other teachers.  It’s also an excellent way to learn from other teachers.  What I liked most about the sessions is how excited the teachers were to share with us; so many told us to email them with any questions.  I loved meeting my Twitter friends and I can’t wait to meet up again! 😀

Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King

A.S. King Everybody Sees the Ants

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.

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