EVERYBODY SEES THE ANTS by A. S. King (Little Brown, October 2011) is the story of Lucky Linderman. He is the son of a squid mother (she spends lots of time doing laps in the town pool so she can deal with her own frustrations and emotions) and a father who spends too much time at the restaurant and not enough time helping Lucky deal with being the target of Nadar, a relentless bully. One day at the pool, Lucky tries to help a young woman avoid embarrassment. The result is Nadar rubbing Lucky's face so hard into the cement that he scrapes away layers of skin. Lucky's mother decides that she and he both need time away from their problems. Away Mom and Lucky head to stay for a while with an aunt who has some serious mental problems and an uncle intent on building Lucky's muscles so he can fight back against Nadar. Does no one understand that fighting is futile?
There is so much more than this brief summary can reveal. Anything more would be a spoiler of some kind. However, for those of you who read and loved A.S. King's PLEASE IGNORE VERA DIETZ, you know what is in store for you. There is humor, sometimes a bit bawdy and broad and self deprecating. There is pathos and empathy. There is, ultimately, some sort of redemption as well. However, how all this happens with a hair model, a POW grandfather who appears alive and well in Lucky's dreams, a squid, a chef, and the other members of the cast of characters is what forms the heart of this incredible story. Yes, I see the ants.