Feb 15, 2013
Audio Review: Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King
September 11th, 2012 by Listening Library
Lucky Linderman has been the target of Nader McMillan’s relentless bullying for as long as he can remember. But he 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, where his grandfather, who never came home from the Vietnam War, is still trapped. There, Lucky can be a real man and maybe even a hero. But how long can he keep hiding in his dreams before reality forces its way inside?
There is a reason this book has earned six starred reviews. Or is it seven? You get my point - everyone loves this book, and you can count me in that crowd. Lucky is stuck in this crap rotation of getting picked on and then sucking it up, turning a blind eye to cruelty like his father has taught him. Over the years the bullying has gotten worse and this crap kid named Nader has been relentless in his teasing and 'boys will be boys' behavior. After a bad situation goes predictably worse, Lucky and his mom visit his uncle in Arizona and wait for things to cool down back home and for the wounds to heal. Lucky spends his days trying to blend into the wallpaper and his dream filled nights are spent with his presumed dead, POW grandfather. Lucky is determined to rescue his grandfather and be the hero he isn't in real life. When Lucky meets a seemingly perfect girl who has it all (she totally doesn't), he starts to gain confidence and find his way out of the bleak.
What I love most about ANTS are the flaws of the characters. Each character in this book is literally running and/or hiding from something. They are real people with real problems and are totally relatable. Lucky's mom swims in order to escape from her not so perfect marriage, Lucky's uncle hides behinds his bench press while his wife hides behind her gravy covered food, and Lucky runs to his dreams to be the man he wants to be. Even with the flaws, everyone has redeeming qualities. They are all just trying the best they can with the hand they've been dealt. I especially love Lucky's Aunt Jodi. She was the sometimes needed comedic break. She is pushy, preachy, and a total basket case at times, and I loved it! I honestly wondered many times if King knew someone like that in real life. Her one liners and insensitivity had to be based on someone. I also loved the late (to me), placement of neighbor Ginny. I think if she came along earlier when Lucky first arrived in Arizona things would have gone differently. Very quickly we learn of her not so peachy home life and her brave streak. I think if the two were introduced earlier in the story, Lucky would not have been ready to be brave as well.
The first time Lucky met his grandfather in his dreams I wasn't really sure what to think. I certainly felt for him as he tries to rescue him night after night. After a few dreams, we get to know who is grandfather was alive and I found myself wanting Lucky to slip out of reality to hear their conversations in the jungle. Yes, we meet some crazy war characters along the way, but their nightly storytelling was special to hear. The last conversation....tears, smiles, and more tears.
There is so much going on in this book and props to King for keeping everything sorted and beautifully balanced. A stand out audio, and I highly recommend!
You can find King at her website
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