Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King
Lucky Linderman, the main character in this surreal, thought provoking book, is anything but lucky. He has been bullied his entire school career by an obnoxious and cruel classmate. His parents won’t stand up for him against the bully. His father is incredibly passive and emotionally absent, interested only in his job, and his mother escapes the pressures of her marriage and family by swimming. Lucky’s grandfather is still MIA (missing in action) decades after the Vietnam war ends, and his grandmother asks Lucky to bring him back on her deathbed. That’s a lot of pressure on a freshman in high school, and the grownups in his life are not doing anything to help him! The only place Lucky feels good about himself is in his dreams, where he visits his Grandfather and breaks him out of prison camp in various ways. Ultimately with the help of a Ninja Girl, his grandfather, and the ants, Lucky is able to reclaim power over his own life. In a starred review in Booklist, Everybody Sees the Ants is described thus, “Blending magic and realism, this is a subtly written, profoundly honest novel about a kid falling through the cracks and pulling himself back up” (Hutley: “Everybody Sees the Ants).