We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson

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“We may not get to choose how we die, but we can choose how we live. The universe may forget us, but it doesn’t matter. Because we are the ants, and we’ll keep marching on.”

We Are the Ants is a really beautiful story about being a teenager, being gay, and not being accepted. This is a story about heartbreak, loss, grief, and trying to figure out who you are in the midst of it all. I’ll be honest, I didn’t love the start of this book, but I completely fell in love with the middle and end. And I totally understand why so many of my friends hail this as their favorite book of all time.

But the reason I’m giving this four stars is because the first part of this book felt just so vulgar. Like, maybe it’s because I’m a grown woman and I don’t want to read about teenage boners, but like the first part of this book just reads crude and bad. I was honestly scared I was going to end up hating this book. Which would have really surprised me, because Shaun David Hutchinson’s short story in the All Out Anthology was my favorite in the entire collection. It was so beautifully written, so lyrical, so immersive, so empowering. And luckily for me, I didn’t give up hope, because We Are the Ants ended up being all of those things, too.

“That’s the problem with memories: you can visit them, but you can’t live in them.”

This book stars a young boy named Henry who is grieving the loss of his boyfriend who recently committed suicide. His home situation isn’t great either, from a mom that is also unhappy, a brother that is abusive and making some big life changes, and a grandmother who can hardly remember his name. Also, Henry is the joke of his high school and has been dubbed “Space Boy” because he frequently gets abducted by aliens, regardless of who believes him or not.

We get to witness some of Henry’s alien abductions, but on one particular visit, he is given a choice to save the world or to leave it for impending destruction. Henry has 144 days to decide if the world is worth saving.

“If you knew the world was going to end, and you could press a button to prevent it, would you?”

This book does deal with so many heavy topics, so please use caution and make sure you are in the right mindset. Trigger and content warnings for attempted rape, sexual assault, outing, suicide, a lot of physical abuse, extreme bullying, homophobia, homophobic slurs, drug addiction, alcoholism, grief, depression, abandonment, loss of a loved one, talk of self-harm/cutting, and having a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease.

Another important aspect I love in this book was the depictions of adults. First off, Henry’s mother is dealing with so many things, and so much heartache of her own, and she doesn’t hide it. I’m not saying everything she did was healthy, but it’s realistic and I think it’s something really important for more teens to read and see that they aren’t alone. High key, Ms. Faraci was my favorite character. I seriously loved that teacher and her honest advice that sometimes awful people do indeed succeed in the world, but it doesn’t mean that they will always be in your life. I also just loved seeing a teacher care about a student the way that she did with Henry. It was truly heartwarming and meant a lot to me.

Another really real and raw theme of the book is how we use other people to fill a void left by someone else. And how we will make excuses and justifications for the only person who is making us feel something, even if they are abusive and manipulative. This just really spoke to my soul, honestly.

I wouldn’t say that this book is about romance, but there is a romance element and let me climb up on the rooftops and scream that the love interest in this book is a Latinx Pansexual boy! You all, I was not expecting pan rep in this book, and even though the actual word is not on the page, my heart was so damn happy.

Overall, Shaun David Hutchinson has now impressed me twice in 2018 and I’m no longer going to sleep on his work. I think he’s so immensely talented, and all the elements that are a part of his stories are honestly life changing and saving. And I hope you all might consider picking up We Are the Ants and get blown away, too.

“Depression isn’t a war you win. It’s a battle you fight every day. You never stop, never get to rest. It’s one bloody fray after another.”

This story is truly holds such an important discussion about mental illness and how it is something that you have to always manage and keep up with, because it never goes away, no matter how many alien abductions happen. And I’m going to leave some numbers here:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: http://suicidepreventionlifeline.org
In a crisis, call their free and 24/ 7 U.S. hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Contact their Crisis Text Line: text TALK to 741-741
National Hopeline Network: http://hopeline.com / 1-800-442-HOPE (4673)
American Association of Suicidology: http://suicidology.org
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: http://afsp.org
Suicide Prevention Resource Center: http://sprc.org

Alliance of Hope for Suicide Survivors: http://allianceofhope.org
American Association of Suicidology survivors page: http://suicidology.org/suicide-survivors/suicide-loss-survivors
Friends for Survival: http://friendsforsurvival.org
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline survivors page: http://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/help-yourself/loss-survivors/
Suicide Awareness Voices of Education: http://save.org

Mental Health America: http://mentalhealthamerica.net
National Alliance on Mental Illness: http://nami.org
National Institute of Mental Health: http://nimh.nih.gov

Also, I found all of these resources from The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan, which is another amazing book that I completely recommend for anyone looking for more books that center around mental illness. And I’m obvious not a therapist, but my DMs will always be open for anyone who just needs a friend to talk to. You are deserving of love and happiness, sometimes it just takes a little while to find those things, but I promise you are worthy of them. And I promise that you matter.

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Buddy read with Alexis and Lily! ❤

15 thoughts on “We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson

  1. oh, i defo need this book once I’m in a better mood! now I’m just super tired all the time so this would be overwhelming and that’d be a shame cuz it sounds awesome
    great review 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Knowing what your mind set is okay with is so important, Norrie! And you have to let me know what you think of this one once you do put it up! And I’m here if you need anything! Make sure you’re getting those eight hours, love! And thank you! Happy reading, babe! 💗xx

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Honestly? there aren’t that many. I’m reading The Melody of You and Me at the end of the month and it’s supposed to be a f/f romance (SET IN A BOOKSTORE) with a pan MC! Also, Black Iris by Elliot Wake was the book that made me realize I was pan, but the word “pansexual” is never used. It’s more about sexuality fluidity! But I’ll keep you updated if I find any other amazing ones this month, love! 💗xx

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yeah I’ve always wondered why there’s not that many. It’s a shame but I hope more start coming out. Melody of You and Me sounds super promising!! Oh, wow I need to check out Black Iris then! And that’s great! I’m so glad you found the sexuality that fits you ^^

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I feel conflicted because I am not sure I would make it through the first part with the mentioned issues you encountered. Which is a shame because the overall theme sounds so valuable 💕 Maybe going into it knowing to expecting the vulgarity it will help. Thanks so much Mel. Beautifully honest review.💕

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awh, thank you, love. Yeah… this is a rough one because I really did end up falling so in love with the middle and end. But both ladies I buddy read with didn’t really enjoy it. So…. take this review with a grain of salt, I suppose! But it really worked for me! I’m actually really curious if it would work for you! Hahaha! But happy reading, my love! 💗xx

      Liked by 1 person

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