Thursday, October 20, 2011
Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King
I am now officially a fan of A.S. King! Please Ignore Vera Dietz, her second YA novel that won a Printz Honor, was no fluke. Ms. King can write as she proved again with this gem, Everybody Sees the Ants.
Admittedly, the book is designed in such a way that it really is confusing in the beginning. But I urge readers to stay with the story and all the pieces will come together in a very powerful way. Unfortunately this story is one that needs to be told.
Lucky Linderman is a teen who really has a "sucky" life. He has been harassed for years by the school bully. His mother spends all her time swimming like a squid. His father is a workaholic. All his friends dropped him after his Social Studies questionnaire on suicide which got him in trouble in school. And his grandmother charged Lucky to find his grandfather, a MIA/POW Vietnam veteran, right before she dies. Lucky seems powerless to take control of anything in his life and it seems like nothing will every get better.
Then things do change. Nolan, the big bully, goes one step too far and finally Lucky's mom is activated to do something...She takes Lucky to Arizona for a "time out." Finally Lucky seems to find his voice and in the process starts to like himself and his family. He does this with help from a local girl and those "odd" dreams of his grandfather.
Though this story sounds very depressing it has some very lighthearted moments, many of them humorous. It is also contains an important message...bullying has consequences and bullies must be stopped. It also shows the reader that help doesn't always come from where we think it should. We can help others just by listening and being present.
I found myself cheering for Lucky and for all kids who are the bottom of the "food chain." As I read I thought of several kids and teachers who would benefit from reading Everybody Sees the Ants. You see, last year a student at my school committed suicide. Afterwards it came to light that the young man had been the recipient of severe harassment and bullying. Those of us in education know that we have to do what we can to make school a safe place for everybody, every day.
“It’s a smart, funny, and passionate novel that embodies the idea that “It Gets Better”—when you take action.” --Publishers Weekly (starred)