I know, I know. I said I’d start Monday. I couldn’t wait.
The first book I listened to on my Manitoba road trip was Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King, narrated by Kirby Heyborne. I really hit the ground running with this one.
Well, not literally running. I was driving. I mean, it was 1,234 miles to my destination (which I think is kind of cool) (this is really close to 1984 kilometers, which is also cool, as that’s the year of my birth). Anyway, I didn’t run. I sat. And I listened.
And what I listened to was phenomenal. I had given up on audio books for a little bit because I listened to some stinkers. Basically, if the narrator speaks in either a monotone the entire time or, like, like a valley girl chomping on her bright pink gum? With her fingernails matching her headband matching her gum color matching her lip gloss? And her sentences all sound like questions? I won’t like it. But this one was great.
First, a little plot music. Lucky Linderman is the fortunate hero of this tale. His family is. . .less than functional. His dad is the son of a champion MIA/POW supporter, as Lucky’s grandfather never came home from Vietnam. So this dad character has never really dealt with that fully, and doesn’t know how to be a father. He cooks (that’s his job), and. . .that’s about it. His mom swims. Like, 7 million laps a day swims. Lucky just goes through his day, doing what he can to ignore it all.
But Lucky has a bully. Nader McMillan (what a sweet bully name, right?). And one day, Nader picks on Lucky just enough that his mom can’t take it anymore. So they’re off to Arizona to visit her brother and his wife. Where they can deal with things. Which basically means she can swim 7 million laps a day in a different state, and Lucky can have a different male role model. As if that changes anything.
There’s something else, though: Lucky’s grandfather. Yes, he never came home from the war. But Lucky has been having meetings with him. In his dreams. There’s a very real nature to these dreams. Lucky decides it is his job to rescue his grandfather (which was also his grandmother’s dying request. Oh, by the way: his grandmother is dead).
So much more is going on (there’s a girl, among other things) that wouldn’t really fit in the context of a review. But here’s the thing. This story is layered and complex and all that. But more than anything, it’s just. . .it’s good.
A.S. King takes us on a journey through Lucky’s mind that is just so real it’s impossible to turn off. I mean, not that I had anything else to do but sit and listen, but I didn’t want to stop. This was so good at being a teenage boy’s perspective of life that I didn’t know A.S. King was female until after I got home and looked her up on Twitter. The book was just spot-on.
Without Kirby Heyborne’s narration, though, it might not have come alive as much. There was just this dry, teenage sarcasm dripping through my speakers. This was juxtaposed with intense teenage confusion, as Lucky often experiences this particular feeling. I can’t explain how good it was. Just go listen yourself.
I would recommend this book for anyone looking to try an audio book. It’s not too long (just under 8 hours), and will definitely hold your interest. Also, I think fans of John Green and The Perks of Being a Wallflower will enjoy the story.