Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King is a trippy, young adult read. Lucky Linderman just completed a very challenging ninth grade year. His story slips among the events from his past school year, present time and his dreams. Lucky’s lucid dreams started when he was seven years old, following a promise to his dying grandmother that he would find and return his POW/MIA grandfather. His grandfather went missing during the Vietnam War. Lucky’s dreams all involve finding and connecting with his grandfather, but he is never able to bring him home. He does bring home a memento from each dream.
After years of bullying coming to an ugly head, Lucky’s mom decides it’s time to get away. The escape is due to Lucky’s latest encounter with his almost lifelong bully, but it is also due to the strained relationship between Lucky’s parents. Lucky and his mom go to spend a couple weeks with his mom’s brother and sister-in-law in Arizona. Lucky grows from this experience in all the right ways: physically, mentally and emotionally. He creates interesting relationships with his aunt and uncle and a beautiful neighbor with her own baggage. The ants are a metaphor for people’s problems; ultimately everyone has them in differing degrees. Lucky is finally able to figure out how to confront his problems.
This story was unique with strong character development, and it left me with many questions relating to Lucky’s dream states.