Still Life with Tornado is the newest book by teen author extraordinaire, A.S. King. Every book I've read of hers is pure gold, and the same is true with this one. King weaves in bits of magical realism to this coming-of-age story about a teen artist, while uncovering truths about her family dynamics, and abuse. The pov toggles from the daughter to the mother and your heart tears open as the story unfolds.
My rating: 4 stars.
Summary from goodreads:
“I am sixteen years old. I am a human being.”
Actually Sarah is several human beings. At once. And only one of them is sixteen. Her parents insist she’s a gifted artist with a bright future, but now she can’t draw a thing, not even her own hand. Meanwhile, there’s a ten-year-old Sarah with a filthy mouth, a bad sunburn, and a clear memory of the family vacation in Mexico that ruined everything. She’s a ray of sunshine compared to twenty-three-year-old Sarah, who has snazzy highlights and a bad attitude. And then there’s forty-year-old Sarah (makes good queso dip, doesn’t wear a bra, really wants sixteen-year-old Sarah to tell the truth about her art teacher). They’re all wandering Philadelphia—along with a homeless artist allegedly named Earl—and they’re all worried about Sarah’s future.
But Sarah’s future isn’t the problem. The present is where she might be having an existential crisis. Or maybe all those other Sarahs are trying to wake her up before she’s lost forever in the tornado of violence and denial that is her parents’ marriage.
“I am a human being. I am sixteen years old. That should be enough.”