Everybody Sees the Ants

Everybody Sees the Ants

4.0 13
by A. S. King
     
 

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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 dysfunctional family is fine. And he didn't ask to be the target of Nader McMillan's relentless bullying, which has finally gone too far.

But Lucky has

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Overview

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 dysfunctional family is fine. And he didn't ask to be the target of Nader McMillan's relentless bullying, which has finally gone too far.

But Lucky has a secret—one that helps him wade through the mundane torture of his life. In his dreams, Lucky escapes to the war-ridden jungles of Laos—the prison his grandfather couldn't escape—where Lucky can be a real man, an adventurer, and a hero. It's dangerous and wild, and it's a place where his life just might be worth living. But how long can Lucky keep hiding in his dreams before reality forces its way inside?

Michael L. Printz Honor recipient A.S. King's smart, funny and boldly original writing shines in this powerful novel about learning to cope with the shrapnel life throws at you—and taking a stand against it.

Editorial Reviews

Booklist
* Blending magic and realism, this is a subtly written, profoundly honest novel about a kid falling through the cracks and pulling himself back up.
Publishers Weekly
Reality is a flexible thing in this offbeat and thought-provoking coming-of-age story from Printz Honor–winner King (Please Ignore Vera Dietz). Lucky Linderman, 15, has been the target of bullying by a classmate, Nader, and after a particularly brutal attack by him, Lucky leaves Pennsylvania for Arizona with his mother, who is fed up with her marriage. Staying with his uncle and pill-popping aunt is anything but a peaceful vacation, but when Lucky meets 17-year-old Ginny, a reluctant model, her strong will and courage make Lucky realize that it’s time to stand up for himself. The gravity of the issues King addresses—bullying, marital difficulties, the lack of closure regarding Lucky’s grandfather, an MIA soldier who has been gone for decades—are thrown into high relief by surreal elements interwoven throughout, most notably Lucky’s dreams, which bleed into reality in intriguing ways as he attempts to rescue his grandfather and others, and a Greek chorus of ants Lucky sees, which adds welcome doses of humor and pathos. It’s a smart, funny, and passionate novel that embodies the idea that “It Gets Better”—when you take action. Ages 15–up. (Oct.)
From the Publisher
A 2012 YALSA Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults Title
A 2012 Capitol Choices Noteworthy Book for Teens
A Keystone to Reading Children's Choice Award Winner
A 2014 Eliot Rosewater Indiana High School Book Award Nominee

* "Blending magic and realism, this is a subtly written, profoundly honest novel about a kid falling through the cracks and pulling himself back up."—Booklist, starred review

* "King remarkably channels fifteen-year-old Lucky, creating one of the most believable teen male characters in young adult fiction.... This unique coming-of-age story will hold tremendous appeal for reluctant male readers."—VOYA, starred review

* "A smart, funny, and passionate novel that embodies the idea that 'It Gets Better'—when you take action."—Publishers Weekly, starred review

* "King's heartfelt tale easily blends realism and fantasy.... A haunting but at times funny tale about what it means to want to take one's life, but rising above it so that living becomes the better option."—School Library Journal, starred review

* "King's themes of torture, physical and emotional imprisonment, and bullying connect in satisfying ways in this improbably witty and heartwarming story."—The Horn Book, starred review

* "The unusual and occasionally comic juxtaposition of the POW experience with Lucky's victimization... [offers] compelling food for thought about the things we can control and the things we can't, and how that distinction ultimately determines the need for action."—The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, starred review"

A resonant, uplifting story about not just getting through, but powering through, the tough times."—Kirkus Reviews

The Horn Book
* "King's themes of torture, physical and emotional imprisonment, and bullying connect in satisfying ways in this improbably witty and heartwarming story."
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
* "The unusual and occasionally comic juxtaposition of the POW experience with Lucky's victimization... [offers] compelling food for thought about the things we can control and the things we can't, and how that distinction ultimately determines the need for action."
starred review Booklist
* "Blending magic and realism, this is a subtly written, profoundly honest novel about a kid falling through the cracks and pulling himself back up."
VOYA - Paula Gallagher
Lucky Linderman's life is anything but fortunate. His controversial social studies survey landed him in the principal's office, with a bonus visit to the guidance counselor. His dad is a conflict-avoiding "turtle," a workaholic chef who is a POW/MIA activist. His mom, a self-proclaimed "squid," spends her days swimming laps. Lucky is plagued by Nader McMillan, a bully who has tormented him since the age of seven and shows no signs of letting up. After a particularly brutal session of physical abuse, Lucky's mom surprises him with a trip to Arizona to visit her brother and his wife. Meanwhile, Lucky has a secret nightlife—he repeatedly attempts to rescue his POW grandfather in Vietnam via surreal jungle dreams. Then there are the ants, a kind of anthropomorphic Greek chorus of insects that have begun to illustrate his thoughts. King remarkably channels fifteen-year-old Lucky, creating one of the most believable teen male characters in young adult fiction. Readers will empathize with his problems and root for him as he searches for the best way to finally take control of his own life. Ginny, the feminist neighbor and "hair model," proves a good foil. Adult characters fare well here too, as King reveals their strengths and flaws, making them three dimensional in a way that many authors fail to do. Lucky comes to understand that he is not alone in suffering. This unique coming-of-age story will hold tremendous appeal for reluctant male readers. Reviewer: Paula Gallagher
Kirkus Reviews

An involving, if slightly uneven, follow-up to Printz Honor winner Please Ignore Vera Dietz (2010).

"If you were going to commit suicide, what method would you choose?" This smart-aleck survey question developed for a social-studies assignment sends the cruelly mis-named Lucky Linderman's life straight into the sewer. Misunderstood by school administrators, tormented by the school's bully-in-chief Nader McMillan, fretted over by his ineffective parents, Lucky launches the ultra-stoic "Operation Don't Smile Ever" to protect himself, but privately he seethes with rage and sadness. In his dreams—the only place he can exercise any authority or skill—Lucky stages bold, elaborate rescue missions to bring his Vietnam-era POW/MIA grandfather home. After Nader assaults Lucky at the community pool, Lucky and his swimming-obsessed mom decamp to Arizona to visit relatives and recuperate. Readers will fall hard for Lucky's aching, disgusted, hopeful and triumphant voice, but this otherwise deeply realistic story falters a bit whenever elements of magical realism intrude. The titular Greek chorus of ants, a shape-shifting facial scab, the items that accompany Lucky home from his dreams: None of them quite mesh with the story, instead forcing readers to question Lucky's sanity when they should be completely on his side.

Readers who look beyond these problems will find a resonant, uplifting story about not just getting through, but powering through, the tough times. (Fiction. 15 & up)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780316129275
Publisher:
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication date:
09/18/2012
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
111,303
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

A.S. King is the author of the highly acclaimed Everybody Sees the Ants and the Edgar Award nominated, Michael L. Printz Honor Book Please Ignore Vera Dietz, described as "deeply suspenseful and profoundly human" by Publishers Weekly and picked as one of Kirkus Reviews' Best Books for Teens 2010. She is also the author of The Dust of 100 Dogs, described as "undeniably original" by Booklist and picked as one of ALA's Best Books for Young Adults. After returning from Ireland, where she spent over a decade living off the land, teaching adult literacy, and writing novels, King now lives deep in the Pennsylvania woods with her husband and children. Learn more at www.as-king.com.

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