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Still Life With Tornado
Cover of Still Life With Tornado
Still Life With Tornado
by A.S. King
A heartbreaking and mindbending story of a talented teenage artist's awakening to the brokenness of her family from critically acclaimed award-winner A.S. King.

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.
"Read this book, whatever your age. You may find it's the exact shape and size of the hole in your heart."—The New York Times

"Surreal and thought-provoking."—People Magazine
★ "A deeply moving, frank, and compassionate exploration of trauma and resilience, filled to the brim with incisive, grounded wisdom." —Booklist, starred review

★ "King writes with the confidence of a tightrope walker working without a net."—Publishers Weekly, starred review
★"[King] blurs reality, truth, violence, emotion, creativity, and art in a show of respect for YA readers."—Horn Book Magazine, starred review
★ "King's brilliance, artistry, and originality as an author shine through in this thought-provoking work. [...] An unforgettable experience." SLJ, starred review
A heartbreaking and mindbending story of a talented teenage artist's awakening to the brokenness of her family from critically acclaimed award-winner A.S. King.

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.
"Read this book, whatever your age. You may find it's the exact shape and size of the hole in your heart."—The New York Times

"Surreal and thought-provoking."—People Magazine
★ "A deeply moving, frank, and compassionate exploration of trauma and resilience, filled to the brim with incisive, grounded wisdom." —Booklist, starred review

★ "King writes with the confidence of a tightrope walker working without a net."—Publishers Weekly, starred review
★"[King] blurs reality, truth, violence, emotion, creativity, and art in a show of respect for YA readers."—Horn Book Magazine, starred review
★ "King's brilliance, artistry, and originality as an author shine through in this thought-provoking work. [...] An unforgettable experience." SLJ, starred review
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About the Author-
  • 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. The New York Times called her "one of the best YA writers working today." King lives with her family in Pennsylvania, where she returned after living on a farm and teaching adult literacy in Ireland for more than a decade. www.as-king.com
Reviews-
  • AudioFile Magazine Karissa Vacker's tones are subdued as she narrates the first-person story of 16-year-old Sarah. Her muted performance matches the heroine's depressed affect. But there lurks in Vacker's restraint an edge that hints at Sarah's emotional tornadoes. Sarah, always renewed by art, suddenly finds that she can't draw. She wanders Philadelphia seeking originality. And she finds it in discovering versions of herself at different ages. The skills of author and narrator make a seamless transition into magical realism. Vacker's volume rises in chilling bursts when Sarah returns home and confronts her father's abuse and the cruelties that have taken place in school. Listeners will cheer for this resilient heroine and welcome the peace she finds at last. S.W. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award � AudioFile 2016, Portland, Maine
  • Publisher's Weekly

    January 30, 2017
    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.

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