Lucky Linderman has had to face a lot of challenges in his 14 years. His grandfather has been missing in action since being captured in Laos during the Vietnam War. His father doesn’t really talk to him about anything important, and his mother escapes the home life tension by swimming laps every day. Then there’s Nader McMillan, the bully who has abused Lucky repeatedly since they were seven. When Nader goes too far one day, Lucky’s mom takes him from their home in Pennsylvania to stay with family in Arizona for a few weeks.
Outside of his regular environment, Lucky has a chance to gain a new perspective on everything in his life and decide what he’s going to do going forward.
Everybody Sees the Ants by A. S. King is a powerful and gripping story about an uncomfortable subject. Lucky’s parents know he’s being bullied, but their initial efforts to do something about it prove fruitless. Eventually, they give up. Most of the people in Lucky’s life turn a blind eye to Nader’s abuse because they don’t know what to do about it. With no one to guide him on resisting, Lucky avoids Nader when possible and takes whatever Nader gives out when he can’t.
Over the years Lucky has learned to escape into a world where he is rescuing his grandfather from his captors. In his dreams he is more powerful than in real life, and he finds a way to work through the issues that bother him. The question is, will Lucky be able to figure out how to rescue himself without doing something drastic?
Everybody Sees the Ants doesn’t flinch at the brutal reality of war zones, whether they are on the playground or in the jungle. It refuses to turn that blind eye to the consequences of those brutal actions: children who grow up without fathers, parents who blame each other for their ineffectiveness and grow apart, and a society that doesn’t protect the vulnerable. It’s not an easy book to read, but it is an important one. I highly recommend it for mother-daughter book clubs with girls aged 14 and up.
The publisher provided me with a copy of this book to review.