Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. KingLucky’s life at school is almost unbearable. Not only did he get into see-the-guidance-counselor-regularly kind of trouble for a social studies assignment, he also has to endure Nader McMillan. Nader is your typical bully–he’s big, he’s mean, he’s got a knack for torture, and with his charm and lawyer father he is beyond reproach from any adult in town.

Lucky’s life at home is its own kind of misery. With a father who tries to avoid just about everything to do with home and a mother who would much rather spend her time swimming lap after lap in the pool, Lucky is basically on his own.

His only escape from the brutality of school and the numbness of home are vivid dreams Lucky has of rescuing his grandfather who was taken as a Prisoner of War during Vietnam. Then one day, Nader’s torture goes far enough that Lucky’s mom packs them both up and flies them to Uncle Dave and Aunt Jodi’s house in Arizona (the only relatives with a pool).

While in Arizona, Lucky’s life changes completely. Now he has to be brave enough to let those changes follow him back home.

I read “Everybody Sees the Ants” in exactly one sitting. I laughed. I cried. I devoured this book.

King has written an incredibly important book about what it’s like to be bullied, about what it’s like to have parents who are physically there but not fully present, and about what it’s like when your family history obsessively haunts your present life.

Lucky is a real character filled with the self-doubt and vulnerability but also strength and openness. Even through the filter of his narration Lucky’s peers and the adults in his life are fully and honestly described. The tortures Lucky endures at the hands of Nader and the ineffectual, bumbling “help” he receives from most of the adults in his life are painfully real.

“Everybody Sees the Ants” is one every library should own and all teens and adults should read.

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