christine cooper's Reviews > Everybody Sees the Ants

Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King
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May 02, 12

Read from April 14 to May 02, 2012

Liesl, our children's buyer, had bugged me and bugged me to read this book for weeks before I finally started it. I'm glad she did, it's well worth the pestering.

Lucky Linderman's parents are having marital issues and Lucky's getting bullied -- harassed and assaulted verbally, physically, and you could certainly argue sexually -- by a jerk at school for years. His father is a turtle: living in regret, loss, and confusion from not having his father around (who was a POW/MIA in Vietnam). His mom is a squid: obsessively swimming laps to physically work out her emotional frustrations. After one final blow, Lucky's mother is fed up with everything and the two of them visit her brother and Crazy Aunt Jodi in Arizona to escape what has become their reality.

I thought this was a very realistic set of characters in all-too-familiar situations that I think most teenage boys could relate to, either from first or second hand experience. It was a perfect balance of dark humor and brutal honesty.

The thing that bothered me about the book though were the dream sequences. Not that they happened, because I thought they were a very good way for Lucky to both work out his issues and demonstrate how pervasively his grandfather's disappearance affected him (through his family and their POW/MIA stuff EVERYWHERE). It gave Lucky a positive mentor. I didn't like the box that he kept everything from those dreams in. Aside from forming something for him and his dad to bond over at the end, I don't see why the dreams needed to be as "real" as they were. It just didn't further the plot along much more than a simple dream sequence could (did).

In any event, great piece of teen lit that's not about vampires, fairies, evil angels, and awful terrible girl cliques.
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