Monday, May 21, 2018

Book Review: Still Life with Tornado, by A. S. King

Still Life with Tornado by A. S. King book cover and review
I'm a huge fan of A. S. King, and Still Life with Tornado is no exception.  I shouldn't like her books, but I do.

It's also very hard to review her books.  I can tell you what happens, but it just doesn't mean much.  It's all about the writing and the way King reveals things--slowly and carefully.

Sarah is sixteen and has always been very interested in art.  Something happens, and she stops going to school.  Her parents encourage her and try to figure out what is the matter, but she can't go back.  Her parents have their own issues.  They appear to be in a loveless marriage, and there is a lot of arguing in the house.

Sarah's brother left when she was ten years old after a trip to Mexico.  She hasn't seen or heard from him since. Parts of the book are flashbacks to just what occurred on this trip.

Also, Sarah is visited by her 10-year-old self, as well as a 23-year-old version and a 40-year-old version.  And everyone can see these people, not just Sarah.  I know that sounds weird, but just go with it.

Sarah spends her days wandering around and follows a homeless man that is a graffiti artist. She also attends "school" at an old run-down boarded-up school.

Still Life with Tornado is about Sarah and the rest of her family coming to terms with the past as well as the present and overcoming the violence and emptiness of her parents' marriage.

As I'm reading I vacillate between "this is really weird" and "I have to know what happened." But I'm always compelled to keep turning the pages, and Still Life with Tornado was a very quick read for me. I want my students to read A. S. King, but I haven't had many that would.  Too bad. I'll keep trying.

Published by Dutton BFYR, 2016
Copy obtained from the library
296 pages

Rating: 4.5/5

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  1. I thought this book was very well done, too. I am not sure if it is categorized as magical realism but it certainly requires the reader to set aside skepticism. Here is my review which I wrote after reading it in 2016. Still Life With Tornado

  2. I have only read one AS King book and I thought it was weird. I wasn't sure how I felt about it so haven't read any others. I probably should.

    1. They are a bit weird. But there's something about the way she tells the story that always gets me.

  3. I've been tempted to read A.S. King before, but her books just sound SO bizarre. I don't think this author's for me -- you never know, though, I might just give her a go!


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