I just finished reading this novel for the second time. I’m stupefied. Stunned. How does she do it? I thought I liked her other books, but this might be my favorite A.S. King book. This might be my favorite book. A masterpiece of rich metaphor and beautiful bluntness. An authentic work of fiction with a deep understanding of the real feelings of a person who is undergoing an existential crisis. If you’ve ever thought you were losing touch with reality or otherwise losing your mind, this book will speak to you in such a real way that you’ll feel as if you jumped inside it.
If you haven’t experienced an episode of mental illness, this oddly funny, surreal, and thought-provoking book will give you insight so you can strengthen your empathy skills. Highly recommended. Read-alikes: Vonnegut, Robbins, Bukowski. Also, the novel Calvin by Leavitt.
Good but not great. Started off very slow but got better towards the end. Although, I kept waiting for something surprising to happen...and it never did... could have been a lot more exciting and less predictable ...
Have I mentioned that I love A.S. King? I'm sure I have but it bears repeating. Each of her books are so different from each other and are just so good at being creative and imaginative and magical. I mean that literally and otherwise.
In this story we meet Sarah. Sarah is 16 and has decided to stop going to school. She won't tell her parents why, not that it matters since her parents are too busy hating each other. She also hasn't seen her older brother, Bruce, in six years thanks to events that took place on a family trip that are slowly revealed as the novel progresses. Sarah is an artist who can't make art, is having an existential crisis along with a family crisis, and is seeing her past and future self.
This book deals with some very heavy subject matter - domestic violence primarily - and as with all of her books, King handles this with a deft hand. There is no sugar coating here and you're left with the sense that there is some way to go but it is a fantastic read about a creative person who slowly comes to understand how much artistry has gone into protecting her, or misleading her, about what really has been going on in her family.
Wow! Strong voice. Strong sense of place. Utterly original. Believable despite the absurdity of what's happening. It's not a happy story, although it is a deeply satisfying one. It contains the usual muck of the best realistic fiction: abuse, family secrets, mental breakdowns. But, because this novel is written by A. S. King, the master of magical realism, it's so much more than the typical "issues" book. Hand this to anyone who has struggled--with art, with life, with both.
Easily one of the the best YA novels I've read this year. Intense, heartbreaking look at abuse, trauma, dealing with the demons of your past and surviving. Could be hard for some to read - but it's not without its hope. A.S. King is brilliant.
Another brilliant AS King novel.
Note: I had the chance to read an advance reader's copy of this book thanks to the publisher. This does not reflect my review.
I am a huge A.S King fan, and I always find her books to be a gripping, emotional, and even terrifying at times, experience. Still Life With Tornado is a book about art, abuse, and what it means to feel stagnant when the world is moving past you before your very eyes.
Sarah is a wonderful protagonist who struggles with so many issues, from her parents being trapped in a loveless marriage, to having her art work sabotaged because she saw something she shouldn't. Abuse of power is a large part of what makes this novel so rough to read. Teachers, parents, there's both a desire for control and a loss of control int his novel that is reflected in every single character. It's also interesting to read how Sarah's family fell apart through the eyes of her mother, as well as the family vacation that changed everything.
This novel broke my heart right in half. These are the kinds of stories that make me so sad, and make me wish that no one had to suffer these types of situations. Sarah's question for original art is both thoughtful and sad, and it makes you wish that things could, in fact, get better for her. It makes you wish that things could get better for everyone in the story. Sometimes the only way something can get better is if you choose to meet it head on, which can be so scary. Sarah feels a large void, acting in a part she didn't really ask to play, and you feel for her. You understand why she seems so broken.
I felt so emotional reading this book, and once again A.S King leaves me thinking about life and family. While I may not have parents anymore, I appreciated the fact that I always felt loved and wanted, even when things were hard between them. Sarah's story is so moving, and it's a harsher reality that not everyone has dealt with or seen, which makes it very eye opening as well. Still Life With Tornado is A.S King at her finest, as she challenges her readers in such such a gripping and thought provoking story.
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