"Well, how many people do you think live perfect lives, son? Aren't we all victims of something at some time or another?" - Granddad Harry (p.
Lucky Linderman lives a pretty dysfunctional life. He's grown up paying homage to a grandfather who never came home from Vietnam (MIA); he has an emotionally absentee father because he's never gotten over the disappearance of his own; he has a mother who would rather swim laps than face her crumbling marriage; and he has Nader McMillan relentlessly bullying him. His father's solution is to "ignore it" while his mother quietly hopes that the bullying goes away. After Nader's latest assault that leaves Lucky's face mangled goes unpunished, and Lucky's father is moved to inaction, his mother's flight instincts kick in. She's taking him to Arizona to visit family and get away.
When Lucky and his mother arrive in AZ, he finally meets his Uncle Dave and his crazy, pill-popping Aunt Jodi. Things in AZ aren't too different from his life back home; his mother still swims laps, Lucky still dreams about his Granddad Harry, and his Aunt Jodi is convinced that Lucky is suicidal. While trying to dodge Aunt Jodi's helpful interventions to have him committed, he meets Ginny, a beautiful, hair model who suffers from demons of her own. The more that Lucky gets to know about her, and the others, the more he realizes that only he controls his destiny and Nader's days are numbered.
A.S. King takes the emotional struggle of bullying and empowers her charcter in a way that is believeable and
triumphant. As she weaves the story of the missing grandfather throughout, the reader experiences all of the underlying issues that impact Lucky's ability to deal with Nader. I really liked how King doesn't sugar-coat everything. Instead, she shows that everyone has demons, but it's how we face them that has the greatest impact.