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Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King

Dysfunction can be defined in many ways, and some of these definitions might be accompanied with a picture of Lucky Linderman. At least, that’s the way Lucky sees it sometimes. He sees himself stuck in a life that he’d rather not have, with a barely present father who never got over his own father’s disappearance in the Vietnam War, a mother who swims laps in the pool to avoid confrontation, and half a lifetime’s worth of bullying from Nadar McMillan. Sometimes it seems that the only place that things are okay, even when they’re clearly not, is in Lucky’s dreams, because that’s where Granddad Harry is. In Lucky’s dreams, he has a purpose: to rescue Granddad from the jungles of Vietnam. In his dreams, he knows what dangers await him and how to avoid or defeat them. But no matter how real these dreams are, they don’t make up all of Lucky’s life. He can’t hide with Granddad forever—he can’t give up hope on everything else.

I have absolutely loved each and every of the three novels that the spectacular A.S. King has thus put forth, but I’ve come to realize that I don’t necessarily love reviewing them. I always find it a little hard to articulate the raw brilliance and power behind her words, though I attempt to anyway. Most of what I love about King’s writing, especially in Everybody Sees the Ants, is that it is both literary and accessible. I would attribute the literary side to the incorporation of certain elements, such as Lucky’s dreams of Granddad or the ants, that, taken out of context, would sound really bizarre, but mean so much more within this story, either as developments to complicate the plot or a symbols and metaphors. The accessibility is without a doubt due to Lucky’s voice, which is so painfully honest in sharing his hopes, fear, and frustrations. Despite the very particular details of Lucky’s circumstances, there will be something about him that every reader will be able to identify with. That is what I believe this novel really comes down to. At some point, everybody has wanted to escape their life. At some point, everybody has had something bad happen to them. In the words of King herself, everybody sees the ants. But at the same time, perhaps that’s what unifies us.

Fans of A.S. Kings first two novels, The Dust of 100 Dogs and Please Ignore Vera Dietz, will not want to miss her spectacular third. I’d give other recommendations, but I’ll be perfectly honest: I think everyone should read King’s books, especially Everybody Sees the Ants.

Rating: 5.0

Review copy from publisher Little, Brown

1 munch(es) :

holdenj said...

I enjoyed your comments as always, even though they may have been hard to articulate! Thanks for the great info.

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