Everybody Sees the Ants
by King, A. S.

Overburdened by his parents' bickering and a bully's attacks, Lucky Linderman begins dreaming of being with his grandfather, who went missing during the Vietnam War, but during a visit to Arizona, he finds a new perspective.

A.S. King is the author of the highly acclaimed Reality Boy; Ask the Passengers, a Los Angeles Times Book Prize winner;Everybody Sees the Ants; and the Edgar Award nominated, Michael L. Printz Honor bookPlease Ignore Vera Dietz. She is also the author of The Dust of 100 Dogs, an ALA Best Book for Young Adults. When asked about her writing, King says, "Some people don't know if my characters are crazy or if they are experiencing something magical. I think that's an accurate description of how I feel every day." She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and children.

"*Starred Review* Fifteen-year-old Lucky Linderman doesn't feel lucky. After creating an ill-conceived school survey on suicide, he is besieged by well-meaning but ineffective adults who want to make sure he's okay. But though he is honest about how not okay Nader McMillion's bullying is, no one intervenes, not even his parents, who are too caught up with their own inadequacies. Better to pretend everything's fine, even when Nader's bullying escalates, and Lucky begins seeing the ants, a tiny Greek chorus that voices what he cannot. The only place Lucky has agency is in his dreams, where he runs rescue missions to save his POW-MIA grandfather from Vietnam. But are they only dreams? Blending magic and realism, this is a subtly written, profoundly honest novel about a kid falling through the cracks and pulling himself back up. Lucky narrates with bewildered anger and bitter humor, his worrisome moments of emotional detachment going unnoticed by the adults around him. Though heartbreaking, the story is ultimately uplifting, as Lucky accepts responsibility for himself, his family, and the other bullying victims he knows are out there, waiting for someone to speak up. Another winner from King, author of The Printz Honor Book Please Ignore Vera Dietz." Copyright 2011 Booklist 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)

Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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