By the end of the first chapter of From Ant to Eagle, eleven-year-old Calvin Sinclair has confessed to killing his younger brother. And with that—just a dozen or so sentences into the book—author Alex Lyttle had my undivided attention.
From Ant to Eagle is the story of Calvin and his six-year-old brother Sammy. Calvin loves his brother, but he also loves picking on him and manipulating him, and he occasionally excludes or neglects him.
Like many sibling interactions, Sammy adores his big brother. And Calvin takes advantage of Sammy’s hero-worship. Calvin has created a Level System to make Sammy do nearly anything he can think of—like try to eliminate a wasp’s nest with a can of WD40. When Sammy completes a “mission” with bravery and courage, Calvin awards him a Level. Sammy began at Ant, and is eager to reach the highest Level: Eagle.
Two years ago, Calvin’s family moved to Huxbury, a small town in Southern Ontario. They live in the country, surrounded by fields, trees, and, far in the distance, Lake Huron. There is nothing to do, and no one around to play with except Sammy.
Then, the summer Calvin is eleven and Sammy is six, a new family moves nearby. They have a daughter Calvin’s age named Aleta. Calvin is instantly smitten, and reaches out to become Aleta’s friend. As he gets closer to Aleta, he spends less and less time with Sammy. What happens during that summer changes everyone’s lives forever.
I can’t praise From Ant to Eagle enough. This book was absolutely phenomenal. The interactions between Calvin and Sammy were all-too realistic (and may have hit me a little too hard, since my kids are about the same age as these brothers). This book grabbed hold of my emotions and twisted me into an emotional wreck as I watched the brothers’ relationship change, Calvin’s friendship with Aleta grow, and, of course, the aforementioned killing of Sammy. (It’s always hard to explain tears over a book in public!)
Author Alex Lyttle is a pediatrician living in Calgary, Alberta. He has a website serving his “duo-life” at www.alexlyttle.com. Listen to him “ramble” on his blog, learn a little about him (he credits R.L. Stine and the Goosebumps books for teaching him to read!), and maybe even check out his guidance as a pediatric allergist.
I received an advance reader copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review. I am so grateful for the opportunity—this is one of those books that stays with you, that makes you thankful for your own family, and gives you a little perspective into the challenges some families face.
Have you read any great books lately?