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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.
‘One of the best YA writers working today.’
‘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.’
‘You’ll find Still Life’s exploration of an artist’s inner strength particularly enriching.’
‘King understands and writes teen anxieties like no other, resulting in difficult, resonant, compelling characters and stories.’
‘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.’
‘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.’
‘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.’
‘A slow burn of a novel concerned with the difficulty of coming to terms with life as it is…A riveting and rewarding read.’
‘Still Life With Tornado is the perfect blend of magic, mystery, and real life. It’s clever, heartbreaking, and hopeful.’
‘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.’
‘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.’
‘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.’
‘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.’