February 17, 2012
Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King
Lucky Linderman doesn’t feel lucky. If he was, he wouldn’t be having to deal with a bully like Nader McMillan day in and day out.
But he does. And McMillan has gone too far. The assault in the boy’s locker room may have left its mark psychologically, but when you rub a guy’s face on the concrete it leaves a mark that even the most useless adult finds hard to ignore.
But instead of dealing with it, Lucky’s Mom takes him to Arizona to stay with her family.
In Arizona, Lucky doesn’t have to deal with a bully but he does have to deal with everyone staring at his face. And asking him why he doesn’t do something about it.
The fact of the matter is that Lucky’s never had anyone teach him how to stand up for himself. The closest thing he’s ever had are his dreams — dreams in which he stalks through the jungles of Laos where his grandfather is a prisoner of war. In the jungles, Lucky can be a hero instead of a victim. He can draw a bead on the enemy and he can get even.
In Arizona, Lucky lifts weights with his uncle. He learns how it feels to push himself until he aches. Lucky also meets a model who is acting in the Vagina Dialogues. At first, Lucky thinks the play is just plain weird. Cool, but weird. But as he listens to their lines and examines the messages hanging in the lobby, he sees the hidden message about taking back your power. Is it a message he can take with him back into his world?
Confession time — I had a ton of work to do the day I picked this book up. I managed to read a chapter before everyone went to work/school. I picked the book up again as I ate breakfast. And I read. And I read. And I read. I didn’t stop until I had read the entire book. Some parts, I read twice.
Its no surprise that the ALA names this book one of 2012’s Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults. King connects themes of physical and emotional torture, freedom vs imprisonment and honor in a deeply moving story.
In spite of the lower reading level, this book has very mature themes. Some of the bullying is sexual in nature. It is all brutal. That said, this book should be required reading for teachers and administrators as well as students.
King has created a masterpiece.