King, A. S. (2012). Everybody sees the ants. NY: Little Brown.
Lucky Linderman doesn’t really like his life. His father, a chef at a fancy restaurant, is hardly ever home, his mother, to cope with his father’s absence, swims hours and hours a day, and for Lucky there is Nadar McMillan. Nadar has been physically and emotionally bullying him for years and neither of his parents really do anything about it. To escape the abuse, Lucky dreams he is fighting to free his grandfather, a prisoner of war in Vietnam who never returned home. He also imagines several ants that follow him wherever he goes, making funny and sarcastic comments about the different scenarios in his life. His mother, fed up with their situation, decides to take Lucky and go live with her brother and sister-in-law in Arizona for the summer. Once there, Lucky is able to find healing from his parent’s absence and learns how to stand up for himself. Everybody Sees the Ants can be classified under magical realism because Lucky’s visions of Vietnam and his discussions with the talking ants seem real to him when they are really fantasy, but there is more to this novel than these visions. There is romance, friendship, interpersonal conflict between family members, and the emotional and physical scars bullying leaves behind. The quirky and flawed characters in this novel never seemed forced or fake to me; they just reminded me we are all quirky and flawed in some way and we have to learn how to navigate life despite them. I would recommend this novel to 7th graders and up.