Genre: Young Adult Contemporary/ Magical Realism
Year Published: 2011
Status: Stand Alone
Page Count: 197
Everybody Sees the Ants was my first A.S. King book. I had heard lots of positive buzz about her works, and her amazing command over magical realism, which is an element I haven't come across much in my reading.
Magical realism is when an element of magic, or the supernatural, is added to an otherwise realistic fiction or contemporary novel. As you can imagine, this can be quite difficult to pull off without coming across as cheesy or odd, but this book is a great example of well done magical realism.
Lucky Linderman is in high school and is bullied by Nader relentlessly. Lucky's father is still trying to deal with the fact that he had to grow up without a father, because his father was a Prisoner of War from the Vietnam War and never returned home. Lucky receives no help from his parents about dealing with Nader because his parents are trying to deal with their own problems. When Lucky was a kid his grandmother died, but before she did she told Lucky to rescue Grandpa Harry from the jungle. This is where the magical element comes in to play. Lucky meets with and attempts to rescue his grandfather from the jungle almost every night in his dreams, and always wakes up with a tangible item from the dream.
This book is short, but so powerful and emotional. I loved how the magical element worked and was portrayed. There was no doubt that these dreams were real magic and that Lucky was really talking to his grandpa. I really enjoyed the lessons that Lucky learns about everyone around him, but especially his parents. The main theme of this book is "Everybody sees the ants" and when you finish the books you realize how powerful that theme and title is.
I'm a little bit of a history nut, and happened to spend a long time studying the Vietnam War in high school, and I was very pleased with the way the war was presented in this book. The facts check out, and the atmosphere of the jungle mixed with dreamland is perfect.
I really recommend this book, and I am eager to check out more of A.S. King's works as well as other authors who tackle magical realism. Next on my list for A.S. King is Ask the Passengers about a girl who talks to the passengers of overhead passing airplanes, and another for more magical realism is The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Eva Lavender by Leslye Walton about a girl born with wings.
Leave me more suggestions!