Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King
Lucky Linderman has been bullied by Nader McMillan since he was seven years old. Then, the boy peed on Lucky’s shoes in the restroom of a local diner following the death of Lucky’s Granny Janice, who had practically raised him while his mom and dad were at work. Now his mom swims over 200 laps a day (he calls her a squid) and his dad is an introverted restaurant chef (who Lucy calls the turtle). For years his dad has told him to ignore Nader, but now that Lucky’s a high school freshman, the abuse is getting out of control. One summer day at the local community pool, Lucky helps rescue a girl Nader is harassing, and ends up getting ambushed by Nader and getting his face scraped across the rough concrete the surrounds the pool. His face his hurt so badly, his mom is sure he’ll have some type of permanent scarring. To make it worse, even though Mrs. Linderman insists on reporting the incident to the pool manager, Lucky is sure nothing will happen, since the bullying’s been going on for seven years without any sort of consequences yet.
Lucky’s secret is that he escapes to the war-ravaged jungles of Vietnam in his dreams, and tries to rescue his POW-MIA grandpa. In his dreams, he is strong, powerful and in control, very much unlike his real life. And he “sees” armies of ants who try to give him advice and moral support. He thinks he might just be as crazy as the school guidance counselor thinks his is.
Although it started of a little slow, I ended up loving this book. It is at times laugh-out-loud funny, and will make your eyes misty at other places in the book. King, who wrote last year’s award winning Please Ignore Vera Dietz, has hit it out of the park again with this new title. I highly recommend it to YA readers looking for something funny, a book with a bullying theme, or anyone looking for a book that looks deeper into the soul of a teenager than we are used to.