'Moving, unapologetically strange, skilfully constructed…. Read this book, whatever your age. You may find it’s the exact shape and size of the hole in your heart.' New York Times
Sixteen-year-old Sarah can't draw. This is a problem, because as long as she can remember, she has 'done the art.' She thinks she's having an existential crisis. And she might be right; she does keep running into past and future versions of herself as she wanders the urban ruins of Philadelphia.
Or maybe she's finally waking up to the tornado that is her family, the tornado that six years ago sent her once-beloved older brother flying across the country for a reason she can't quite recall. After decades of staying together 'for the kids' and building a family on a foundation of lies and domestic violence, Sarah's parents have reached the end. Now Sarah must come to grips with years spent sleepwalking in the ruins of their toxic marriage.
As Sarah herself often observes, nothing about her pain is remotely original—and yet it still hurts.
Insightful, heartbreaking, and ultimately hopeful, this is a vivid portrait of abuse, survival, resurgence that will linger with readers long after the last page.
I am late to school because I don’t exactly remember the bus I took to get here before. The minute I step into the building, I open the umbrella and walk toward my locker. Superstition abounds. Students act as if I’ve brought a curse upon the building, but that’s only because they don’t know that there is already a curse upon the building. The curse is: Nobody here focuses on the now.
A. S. King is the award-winning author of eight acclaimed YA novels. Her novel Please Ignore Vera Dietz earned a 2011 Michael L. Printz Honor and Ask the Passengers won the 2013 Los Angeles Times Book Prize. King lives with her family in Pennsylvania, where she returned after a decade in Ireland living off the land and teaching adult literacy.
‘One of the best YA writers working today.’ John Green
'A. S. King has always brought her unique touch to her YA novels, but she may have outdone even herself in Still Life with Tornado.' Bustle
'You’ll find Still Life’s exploration of an artist’s inner strength particularly enriching.' Teen Vogue
'The presentation of the surreal as real, the deeply thoughtful questions she poses, the way she empowers her teenage characters to change the trajectory of their lives—King writes with the confidence of a tightrope walker working without a net.' Publishers Weekly
'King understands and writes teen anxieties like no other, resulting in difficult, resonant, compelling characters and stories.' Kirkus
‘A slow burn of a novel concerned with the difficulty of coming to terms with life as it is...A riveting and rewarding read.’ Adelaide Advertiser
‘Still Life with Tornado is a slow-burning but fascinating book…With elements of magical realism, this novel is one that will have you glued to the pages. The writing is as lyrical as it is poignant, and I couldn’t recommend this one enough for people wanting to delve into the sub-genre I call existential contemporary.’ Written Word Worlds
‘Still Life With Tornado is the perfect blend of magic, mystery, and real life. It’s clever, heartbreaking, and hopeful.’ Bookish Manicurist
‘A. S. King shows a deep understanding of teen anxieties and writes with streetwise humour, tenderness and originality…Hers is a magical style that dances off the page.’ Otago Daily Times
‘Amid the dark ubiquity of fractured relationships, crumbling families, adolescent angst and rebellion that characterises YA fiction, it is an unusual novel that rises above that common ground, that explores that generic territory in a fresh and compelling way. A. S. King is one writer who does just that.’ Magpies
‘An authentic representation of the effect of domestic violence on an ordinary family, and the complex consequences of trying to keep together while being as wind-swept as a tornado. A thoughtful read.’ Reading Time
‘A fantastic mix of contemporary and magic realism with some of the most well-developed characters I have ever read. If you’re a fan of character-driven novels, then this one is for you…This book has gotten under my skin.’ Younger Sun
Sarah is 16 and going through an emotional crisis. She is a talented artist but she has stopped creating art, as well as going to school. Instead, she spends her days wandering around Philadelphia, where she literally encounters other versions of herself. She meets 10-year-old Sarah, 23-year-old Sarah, and even 40-year-old Sarah all of whom try to get her to face traumatic memories and truths that she has been repressing and denying. Voice actor Vacker's first-person narration empathetically conveys all the complexities and nuances of Sarah's emotional state: denial and defensiveness, confusion, fear, anger, and pain. Listeners feel the character struggling to understand her family problems and work out her inner turmoil, while simultaneously trying to avoid doing so by creating a stable facade. Vacker subtly differentiates among the book's characters but doesn't create unique voices for them. For example, she uses a higher pitch to sound childish for 10-year-old Sarah, a deeper, angry pitch for Sarah's father. This production excellently brings to life the novel's portrayal of a teenager struggling to survive and overcome childhood trauma. Ages 14 up. A Dutton hardcover.