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Still Life with Tornado

By: A. S. King

A heartbreaking story of a talented teenage artist's surreal awakening to the horrifically unoriginal brokenness of her family.

ISBN: 9781101994887

JLG Release: Dec 2016


Other Formats Available from JLG


Sensitive Areas: Language: Strong Language, Sexual Content: Mild Sexual Content/Themes, Medical: Graphic Descriptions, Violence: Sexual Assault/Rape
Topics: Family secrets , Family violence , Divorce , Architecture , Sexual abuse

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Awards & Honors

SLJ’s Best Books of 2016, Young Adult
Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2016, Young Adult
The New York Times Notable Children’s Books of 2016, Young Adult
Booklist Top 10 Books for Youth 2016, Arts
Booklist 2016 Editors’ Choice, Top of the List, Youth Fiction
Shelf Awareness 2016 Best Books of the Year, Teen Novels
YALSA 2017 Best Fiction for Young Adults
2017 Capitol Choices, Fourteen and Up
2016 Cybils Finalist, Young Adult Speculative Fiction
Booklist Carte Blanche: Columinist’s Choice 2016

Praise & Reviews

Starred or favorable reviews have been received from these periodicals:

Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books*, Booklist*, The Horn Book Magazine*, Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly*, School Library Journal*, Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA)

School Library Journal

[STARRED REVIEW]
At 16, Sarah is facing what she calls an “existential crisis,” questioning whether her life has meaning or value, an event fueled by an unfair art show, a cruel teacher, a toxic and abusive family, a missing brother, and the loss of her ability to draw. Sarah wanders through the streets of Philadelphia and me
[STARRED REVIEW]
At 16, Sarah is facing what she calls an “existential crisis,” questioning whether her life has meaning or value, an event fueled by an unfair art show, a cruel teacher, a toxic and abusive family, a missing brother, and the loss of her ability to draw. Sarah wanders through the streets of Philadelphia and meets her future self at age 23 and 40 as well as her 10-year-old self. With the help of these past and future selves, she uncovers hidden memories of the vacation leading up to her brother leaving and the lies and violence that have driven her family dynamics for years. This beautifully written, often surreal narrative will make readers wonder if Sarah is schizophrenic, if she has post-traumatic stress disorder, or if she just needs to take a break from the realities of her life. Two weeks before Sarah’s crisis, her friend Carmen drew a tornado and told Sarah that it was not a sketch of a tornado but of everything the tornado contained. This drawing becomes an analogy for all that Sarah is hiding in the emotional tornado of her life, the secrets she has hidden from herself and the world. King’s brilliance, artistry, and originality as an author shine through in this thought-provoking work. Sarah’s strength, fragility, and ability to survive resonate throughout. VERDICT This is a complex book that will not appeal to all readers, but for others it will be an unforgettable experience.—Janet Hilbun, University of North Texas, Denton

Horn Book

[STARRED REVIEW]
There is no such thing as an original idea,” sixteen-year-old Sarah’s teacher tells the class, a dictum that sticks with the once-promising art student. Sarah had an original idea, and she executed it beautifully, but Something Happened at school that sent Sarah reeling. She stopped going to high schoo
[STARRED REVIEW]
There is no such thing as an original idea,” sixteen-year-old Sarah’s teacher tells the class, a dictum that sticks with the once-promising art student. Sarah had an original idea, and she executed it beautifully, but Something Happened at school that sent Sarah reeling. She stopped going to high school (not an original idea, she acknowledges) and instead spends her days roaming around Philadelphia, contemplating changing her name to Umbrella, and following a “homeless artist man . . . [who] makes headpieces out of tinfoil.” Things get weird when she encounters her own self at age twenty-three at a city bus stop, and later at age ten. Ten-year-old Sarah has a message to relay, something she’s trying to get today’s Sarah to remember, something about the family trip to Mexico that is fresh in child-Sarah’s mind. We already know that Sarah’s family is in crisis. Her older brother, Bruce, is long estranged, and her parents’ marriage has been on the rocks for years. Interspersed with Sarah’s unfiltered first-person narration are chapters by Sarah’s ER-nurse mom, Helen (in which we learn, for example, that her song for her husband is “You’re a Dumb Prick and I Hate You”), and flashback chapters set in Mexico in which events are slowly revealed. We also learn, in nonlinear fashion, about what happened to Sarah at school, and why her teacher’s “no original ideas” psych-out was even more insidious than it seemed. Lack of original ideas is not something found in work by A.S. King (Everybody Sees the Ants, rev. 1/12; Ask the Passengers, rev. 1/13; I Crawl Through It, rev. 9/15), who blurs reality, truth, violence, emotion, creativity, and art in a show of respect for YA readers. elissa gershowitz

Book Details

ISBN

9781101994887

First Release

December 2016

Genre

Fic

Dewey Classification

F

Trim Size

8 1/4" x 5 1/2"

Page Count

304

Accelerated Reader

Level 4.1; Points: 11;

Scholastic Reading Counts

Level 4.5; Points: 19;

Lexile

Level 620L

Format

Print Book

Edition

Hardcover edition

Publisher

Dutton

Potentially Sensitive Areas

Language: Strong Language, Sexual Content: Mild Sexual Content/Themes, Medical: Graphic Descriptions, Violence: Sexual Assault/Rape

Topics

Family secrets, Family violence, Divorce, Architecture, Sexual abuse,

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