A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Everybody Seems the Ants possesses strong language, frank discussions of sex, and complex thematic content. It touches upon hot-button issues such as bullying, teen suicide, adultery, and addiction. The main character is physically and verbally abused by the high school bully, and one of his friends is punched in the eye by her mother. There are also violent dream images from the Vietnam War. However, the novel is a moving and well-constructed tale of learning to stand up for oneself, told with insight and humor. It will captivate young readers mature enough to grapple with the issues it raises.
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What's the story?
In EVERYBODY SEES THE ANTS, Lucky Linderman's teachers think he might be suicidal, his parents are focused on their own problems, and the high school bully has it in for him. After he is physically assaulted at the local swimming pool, Lucky's mother takes him to stay in Arizona with her brother and sister-in-law. But even there, there's no escape there, as Lucky becomes friends with a troubled older girl and continues to dream of his long-lost grandfather stuck in the jungles of Vietnam.
Is it any good?
Written with emotional insight and cynical, surrealistic humor, this is a compelling and unique portrait of a victim who learns to stand up for himself and take control of his own destiny. There are no easy answers, though. Although she drops elements of fantasy into the narrative, A.S. King is careful to keep the psychological underpinnings of Lucky's hard-won transformation plausible -- and ultimately tremendously moving.
Everybody Sees the Ants made the 2102 Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults list compiled by the the Young Adult Library Services Association (a division of the American Library Association).
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how to deal with violent bullying. Whose responsibility is it to deal with high school students who verbally abuse and physically assault their classmates? What role should parents play?
Why do you think the school administrators react the way they do when Lucky distributes a questionnaire about suicide. What are some effective methods of dealing with the problem of teen suicide?
What has it meant to Lucky's family to have his grandfather still missing in action from the Vietnam War? How do you think families of POWs and MIAs from any war deal with their sadness or feelings of uncertainty?
During the Vietnam War, soliders were drafted through a lottery based on their birthdate. Today, we have an all-volunteer military. What are the advantages and disadvantages of these two systems?
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