Everybody Sees Ants by A.S. King

This is one of those books I’ve had laying around the house for a long time.  Months ago I read a few pages and then stopped, and then I saw that it was one of the books on the Best of the Best list and figured I would try again.  My few pages here and there (late at night, no less) really gave it short shrift.  Because once I got a full chapter or two in I was totally engrossed in the story and couldn’t wait to see how it all resolved itself.

Lucky Linderman is an only child. His dad is a chef and spends most of his time at work, or trying to connect with his family by cooking for them.  His mom seems vaguely unhappy and copes by swimming laps for hours and hours every day.  Lucky’s grandfather served in the Vietnam War and was MIA when Lucky’s dad was just a baby.  Lucky’s dad seems to still feel this loss, but Lucky has for years, been visiting his grandfather in the Vietnam jungle every time he falls asleep.  It seems like dreams, but when he awakes he has objects that he had when he was there.  Every visit he tries to help his grandfather escape to come home.  These visits become especially important to Lucky when he turns 7 and a horrible boy called Nader begins to bully him.  Now a teenager Nader is still a grade A a**hole and he torments Lucky.  When he physically hurts Lucky, Lucky’s mom takes him to Arizona where he stays with a family more messed up than his own.

This book was so beautifully written, moving between times and realities (?) so easily.  The pacing of the book was excellent-this book was exactly the right length-it did not drag on, but it did not wrap up too quickly.  I really thought it was great-the scenes with Lucky and his grandfather were often very moving, his mother-who at first I thought a pitiful character-grew on me, and even his late night meeting of the tough girls doing the Vagina Monologues (which really seemed like the sort of thing that happens all the time in books and absolutely never in real life) fit in neatly.

Oh, and the ants? A clever part of the story.  Not to keep harping on this, but not only did the story grab me, but I was just so impressed and taken in with how wonderfully written this was.

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