Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King

Lucky never did anything to deserve Nader's attention. Just ran into him in the bathroom at a restaurant one day, and Nader peed all over Lucky's leg. That's how it started, and it never let up. From that day forward, Nader is his bully. The kid that never quit, never really got in trouble for what he did, all because Lucky keeps his mouth shut and tries to stay out of his way.

For a while, he even befriended Nader...which worked until his topic for social studies drew much more attention than he expected. It is just a stupid question, and a joke at that: "If you were going to commit suicide, what method would you choose?" Pretty soon, he is inundated with people asking about his social problems. He has meetings with the principal, the guidance counselor, the school district's experts...ugh...

There's one place that Lucky isn't the kid that gets picked on all the time. In his dreams, he visits his Granddad. Since before he was born, his dad's father has been listed as a POW/MIA from the Vietnam War. His grandmother was a vocal supporter of the cause until she died. It is just another part of his messed up life now, but many nights he tries to rescue Granddad. You wouldn't believe it, but sometimes he even wakes up with souvenirs of his adventures.

Back to reality, he must face his increasingly estranged parents. His dad is obsessed with cooking, his mom with swimming...and time together is growing scarce. Lucky isn't sure what to do or how to help. One day at the pool, Nader uses the rough concrete to peel off skin from his face. It's too visable, and sends his mom over the edge.

She decrees that they are both going to Arizona to spend time with her brother. On a forced exodus to soul crushing heat, combined with his hypocondriac wacky aunt, and his beefy uncle, Lucky isn't sure this is any better than being back at home. Will a summer away help him find some perspective? Will he finally save his Granddad? This non-traditional coming of age story looks at bullying without the rose colored glasses. It asks what we are doing to actually change the behavior. Clever, with elements of whimsy, at times painful and very real, King is a fantastic writer.
"I sit on my bed and think about Nader McMillan and wonder what I'm going to do. Ignore him. Stand up to him. Avoid him. Be "tough." I think of the stuff Dad has said over the years. How he finally gave up suggesting things. Why are you asking me this? I never figured out what to do about my own bullies. How am I supposed to know what to do with yours?
I tried all of his ideas. I even tried a few he never suggested. I tried sucking up to Nader and being his friend, which only worked for a little while during freshman year until I got him in trouble with the questionnaire. I tried talking to one of the guidance counselors last January, only to hear that Nader is a pain, yes, but the best thing to do is stay out of his way. 'He's probably a good kid underneath it all,' the counselor said, Which isn't true. But it meant Nader could keep treating kids like that, charming all the teachers with his perfect, whitened smile, and still play baseball in the spring. And it mean his lawsuit-happy father would stay off the school district's back," (King pg. 28, 2011).
*Library Link*

If you liked this, check out:

Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
Burn by Suzanne Phillips

King, A. S. (2011). Everybody Sees the Ants: A novel. New York: Little, Brown.

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