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. Read more...
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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.
A New York Times 2016 Notable Children's Book
A News & Observer Best Book of 2016
A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2016
A School Library Journal Best Book of 2016
A Booklist Best Book of 2016
Booklist Top of the List 2016
A Shelf Awareness Best Book of 2016
A BookPage Best Teen Book of 2016
A Bustle Top 30 YA Book of 2016
A Bank Street College Best Children's Book of the Year
"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
- ISBN-13: 9781101994887
- ISBN-10: 1101994886
- Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
- Publish Date: October 2016
- Page Count: 304
- Reading Level: Ages 14-UP
- Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.6 x 1.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 0.9 pounds
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-07-18
- Reviewer: Staff
Many factors contribute to 16-year-old Sarah’s decision, during her sophomore year, to drop out of life and spend her days wandering the streets of Philadelphia, stalking a homeless artist, encountering past and future versions of herself, and avoiding what she does best: making art. Someone sabotaged Sarah’s project for her school’s annual art show, her art club friends ostracized her when she determined to find out who was behind it, and her parents’ broken marriage is increasingly toxic. Conversations with her 10-year-old self force Sarah to question the story she’s been told about why the family no longer communicates with her older brother, Bruce. One of the things that sets Sarah’s existential crisis in motion is her art teacher’s comment that there is no such thing as an original idea; clearly, Miss Smith has never read one of King’s novels. 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. Ages 14–up. Agent: Michael Bourret, Dystel & Goderich Literary Management. (Oct.)
Advice from your past and future selves
Sixteen-year-old Sarah has always defined herself as an artist, an avid and talented drawer who prides herself on making keen and detailed observations of the world around her. She may be one of the only people who really sees the homeless man creating his own bizarre form of art near her Philadelphia neighborhood. She sees injustice and unoriginality, things that have made it impossible for her to continue making her own art or even attending school, which she now considers meaningless. Lately she’s been seeing past and future versions of herself. So why does she find it impossible to see her own troubled family clearly?
When she is visited by her 10-year-old self, Sarah is finally forced to confront something that happened on a family trip to Mexico when she was 10, something that prompted her beloved older brother to leave the family and never return. Perhaps, at long last, she can see her family with clear, open eyes—and thereby find her way back to making the art that sustains her.
A.S. King is known for crafting deeply sympathetic portraits of teenagers in crisis, and Still Life with Tornado is no exception. Readers who travel with Sarah through her past, present and future are likely to become—like Sarah herself—disoriented and absorbed by visions that border on the surreal and by questions about the reliability of memory that may prompt readers to see their own worlds just a little differently.