My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Goodreads: Lucky Linderman didn't ask for his life. He didn't ask his grandfather not to come home from the Vietnam War. He didn't ask for a father who never got over it. He didn't ask for a mother who keeps pretending their family is fine. And he certainly didn't ask to be the recipient of Nadar McMillan's relentless bullying, which has finally gone too far.
Lucky has a secret—one that helps him wade through the daily dysfunction of his life. Grandad Harry, trapped in the jungles of Laos, has been visiting Lucky in his dreams—and the dreams just might be real: an alternate reality where he can be whoever he wants to be and his life might still be worth living. But how long can Lucky remain in hiding there before reality forces its way inside?
Printz Honor recipient A. S. King's distinctive, smart, and accessible writing shines in this powerful novel about learning to cope with the shrapnel life throws at you, and then taking a stand against it.
My take: This is a book club book - especially for a high school/jr. high class or support group. Honestly, I almost didn't get past the first couple of chapters. It was raw and edgy which I don't mind if it is purposeful and is used to prove a point. It is used to prove a point. It is not edgy just to catch the attention of the adolescent. There is quite a bit of swearing so be aware of that. The sex talk is not beyond what a teenager would hear.
The ants are Lucky's silent narrators. He picks them up while being brutally attacked by Nader on the concrete at the pool. Although I'm not completely certain of their representation, they do play a part in the story, albeit passively.
The story's supporting characters are very much a part of the Lucky's transition. His mother is a squid that lacks a backbone. His father is a turtle who hides from reality. Aunt Jodi is neurotic and the acting out half of the couple. At first detestable, she soon gains empathy. Uncle Dave is something and then something else. I'm not offering spoilers. It's too perfect of a journey. Ginny is a co-conspirator, best friend, ideal girl, victim, empowered woman and the example Lucky needs. Charlotte and Danny play pivotal roles even though they are small. Most interesting is Lucky's grandfather, Harry, a lost MIA/POW from Vietnam War. How much of his interaction is real? What does it represent? So compelling. And healing for everybody.