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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 dysfunctional family is fine. And he didn't ask to be the target of Nader McMillan's relentless bullying, which has finally gone too far.
But Lucky has a secret--one that helps him wade through the daily mundane torture of his life. In his dreams, Lucky escapes to the war-ridden jungles of Laos--the prison his grandfather couldn't escape--where Lucky can be a real man, an adventurer, and a hero. It's dangerous and wild, and it's a place where his life just might be worth living. But how long can Lucky keep hiding in his dreams before reality forces its way inside?
Let’s clear the air right away : Each and every one of the characters is complex and believable, from the teenagers to the adults in their lives. As it is, they’re flawed. They’re realistic. Once again I have to say that in my book that’s the most important in a contemporary. I don’t care about perfect people, otherwise I would read old fairytales, you know, those where the girl is waiting for her perfect guy to step in to save the day. *pukes*
✐ A.S King created such a believable and relatable voice for Lucky – I mean relatable in the “I talk 2659 words in a minute way” because strangely, while reading the book I couldn’t help but feel like Lucky spoke in a really fast fashion. Am I weird? Tell me? Anyway – I talk like that. Well, I learnt to talk slower because, DUH, it’s better for a teacher when your pupils actually UNDERSTAND what you say but in my personal life? Talk with my boyfriend, he’ll tell you. I’m exhausting. But move on.
“Apparently, Evelyn Schwartz went blabbing to the guidance counselor about my questionnaire. She said it was “morbid” and “creepy”. (Evelyn Schwartz has a T-shirt that says HE DIED FOR ME with a picture of a dead guy nailed to a cross on it. Oh, the irony.)”
Moreover, I’m a sucker for this kind of irreverent humor, and from the moment Lucky joked about the guy who died for this annoying girl, I knew that he and I would be BBF forever. And guess what! I was right! Happy dance right now because to be right is such an awesome feeling (sorry about that). Don’t get fooled by his sarcastic humor though, because Lucky’s inner thoughts are sometimes full of self-deprecation – don’t say you don’t know what I mean. But I’ll come back to that later.
► This book made me furious. So angry at all these cowards, because you know what? That’s sadly believable.
“Because it’s not about kicking his ass. It’s about getting away from him. Getting away from all assholes. I don’t want to become one – I just want to escape them.”
Indeed this book deals with bullying , and in my opinion A.S King handled this tough issue with a lot of honestly and talent. Indeed contrary to other books I could read, every struggle, every fear, every despair Lucky feels strikes an honest and familiar chord, making him so relatable to me even though I’ve never been bullied. Yeah, I’ve never been bullied, maybe (I hope) you’ve never been either, but then, who can say without a doubt that he never felt awkward or worthless or lonely someday? Who? Let’s be frank : nobody. Everybody sees the ants, guys. Everybody knows these moments where it seems that nobody can understand who they are and what they need.
Moreover, to me the way the adults were portrayed was pretty realistic, as it showed the different reactions children meet when facing bullying. As a teacher, I often have to deal with children’s fights or altercations and the two most frequent reactions from adults are 1)You have to ignore them and 2)Why didn’t you fight back?. The truth is, it doesn’t work most of the time. It doesn’t work, and children know it – they need us to step in and help them, to frame the discussion between them. Young bullies need someone to tell them that IT’S NOT RIGHT, and bullied need to be heard and feel understood. In my opinion to let 7-10 years old children deal with this kind of things alone is a fucking coward move, but sadly, it is how most of adults react. This or as Aunt Jodie, calling specialists without even LISTENING for starters. Oh, and do you know what maddens me the most? People who tell me that it’s “children worthless stuff”. Yeah, right. Because it’s so funny to be pushed or belittled. I mean, come on. Stop being assholes. Yes I believe that children need to talk together to solve their problems but they do need us to provide them a safe bubble to manage that. I don’t care who their parents are, at school they’re all equals and each and every one of them must follow the rules. That’s all. For sure I’m not saying that I have all the answers, because I don’t, and maybe there aren’t right answers. But I try. It’s frightening, but I try, and if I’m sure that I fuck up badly sometimes, well, I do my best anyway, and I can only hope that it’s something.
So, yeah. Lucky’s story moved me. However, I had a hard time connecting with the characters in the dream part. Indeed whilst it didn’t put me off completely, I have to admit that it confused me and decreased my interest. I’m not usually thrown off guard by weird stuff, but what can I say? It didn’t work for me, as I couldn’t help but disconnect from the story each time we were brought into one of his dreams. More generally, I got the impression that the plot dragged at some parts (in the middle in particular) and if I wasn’t bored, I wasn’t captivated either unfortunately.
Anyway, despite my inability to thoroughly love this book, some parts punched me in the guts and I feel the need to let my rating at 3.5 because I frankly believe that this kind of realistic stories is needed. Teenagers need to read about bullying. Adults need to acknowledge it. I know, I know, most of adults would say that they do acknowledge it but trust me, in real life? They don’t always do it. I don’t want to live in a world where we have to slap someone in order for him to let us alone. I don’t care of what everybody says. There are other ways to deal with it, and I see every day that it works. Yes, that’s true, it takes time and energy, but for real? It’s so worth it.