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Still Life with Tornado

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  6,301 ratings  ·  1,170 reviews
“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 th
Hardcover, 295 pages
Published October 11th 2016 by Dutton Books for Young Readers
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Sierra I would think that she is because it does mention not liking or having any interest into boys or girls, but its not fully said in the book.
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Community Reviews

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Average rating 3.83  · 
Rating details
 ·  6,301 ratings  ·  1,170 reviews

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Emily May
Oct 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
But now it’s been so long that if I bring it up, I’ll look like a girl who can’t let go of things. Teenage girls always have to let go of things. If we bring up anything, people say we’re bitches who can’t just drop it.

If you're familiar with A.S. King, then you'll probably understand immediately that this book is not what it first seems. If you're new to her books, then expect to be taken into a weird world of existentialism and magical realism before what's really going on becomes apparent
Elle (ellexamines)
Jul 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: people looking for a well-written narrative around abuse
Now it's been so long that if I bring it up, I'll look like a girl who can't let go of things. Teenage girls always have to let go of things. If we bring up anything, people say we're bitches who can't just drop it.

This book changed me as a person.

Still Life With Tornado is about a lot of things, but most of all, it's about how teenagers are discounted - especially teenage girls. Teens are vehicles for drama rather than being real people. Our feelings aren't feelings - they're drama. And th
Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘

►Nothing's really original so let's not start, alright?

"In eight days of riding around, that's what I've discovered. It's raining bullshit. Probably all the time."

I'm gonna be unoriginal and repeat what my fri en ds already said : don't be fooled and think that it's about an angsty teenage girl. It's really not. Or maybe it is, partially, but A.S. King challenges the way we see angsty teenage girls. After all, aren't we all a little unfair when judging them? What's our goal when w
Neil (or bleed)
Writing a review for this book doesn't seem original.

(view spoiler)
Sarah is in the middle of an existential crisis. She stops going to school and spends her days visiting abandoned structures in Philadelphia. An event at an art show triggered her crisis, but she actually started falling apart a long time ago. The key to unlocking the cause of her disillusionment may be confronting the events of a family vacation to Mexico when she was ten-years-old. Her older brother Bruce hasn't talked to the family in the six years since then. She can't remember what happened ...more
Mar 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya, 5, 2016, starred-2016
I love to be surprised by YA authors who manage to find a new angle from which to write about the same topics, too well-trodden in YA lit. Here is a fresh take on the family-abuse scenario. Of course, this A.S. King, so some magic realism is in the mix. "Still Life with Tornado" follows King's winning formula, but this formula still works for me. ...more
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

Before I even begin, let me forewarn you that there is no way this is going to amount to any semblance of an informative review (so different than usual, right????). This is my fourth or fifth A.S. King book and at this point I pretty can only say . . . .

My first King experience was Everybody Sees the Ants (which I read back in the day when my reviews pretty much said Earth shattering stuff like “dis was gud”) and everything I
“There are far too many silent sufferers. Not because they don't yearn to reach out, but because they've tried and found no one who cares.”

----Richelle E. Goodrich

A.S. King, an award winning and bestselling American author, pens a heart wrenching tale of abuse, magical realism, teenage existential crisis in her new YA novel, Still Life with Tornado where the central characters of 16 years of age is a victim of existential crisis who has lost the creativity and power to imagination to create n
I just finished and like usual, I have no idea wtf I just read. And I love it.

Being inside Sarah's head is unlike any other monologue. It's messy and confusing and heartbreaking. We get snippets of POV from Sarah's mom, Helen, and they're even worse.

There were layers upon layers upon layers and each one is revealed so deliciously slow. We were learning things the same time Sarah did. There isn't anything I can say or try to explain that will make the plot arc make sense. It's a jumble of past
Initial reaction:Probably one of the most original and engaging stories I've read of its measure. Sarah's story and different personalities really held my attention throughout the read.

Full review:

It's on an ironic note that while that the protagonist of this book (Sarah) was worried about being "original", "Still Life with Tornado" is truly one of the most original reads I've seen in the YA spectrum to date. I honestly have never read a story quite like this - blending a bit of speculative fict
Stephanie *Eff your feelings*
Jan 26, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: art, 2017, ya
"Actually Sara was several human beings at once."

Sara is a 16 year old artist, because of circumstances in her past that she has suppressed, has lost the ability and the will to draw or create anything. Meanwhile, she stops going to school and wanders the streets of Philadelphia where she meets her 10 year old self, 23 year old self and 40 year old self.

Now before you assume this a result of some sort of schizophrenic break (like I did), the rest of the people in her family see all these of Sara
Carole (Carole's Random Life)
This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life.

This book surprised me. I really didn't know what to think going into it. I grabbed it just because it looked somewhat interesting. I actually try not to read too much about a book before I sit down to read. For much of the book, I had no idea where things were going but I couldn't stop reading. Things shifted in the story at a point and what this book is really about became more clear. In the end, I really enjoyed this story.

Sarah is in the
Jul 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobooks
3.75 ⭐️
This was very real and unreal at the same time. Sarahs parents want her to be an artist, she wants to be an artist but she doesnt really care to be an artist, but thats what she's supposed to be.
I dont really understand the multiple Sarahs young and old that confused me and makes me think i missed something.
If you watch the show the middle you know that it is very much like real life but a bit exaggerated. This book tried to be very real i think but it was very slow and didnt really pi
Mrs. Europaea
Jan 11, 2017 rated it it was ok
It is difficult for me to review this one. Still Life with TORNADO is about a sixteen year old girl named Sarah who is in the midst of what appears to be some type of existential crisis.

Maybe I'm snapping. Maybe I've already snapped and I'm coming back to real life. Maybe this is some sort of existential crisis. I couldn't tell you right now whether my life has meaning or value. I don't even know if I'm really living.



Dec 11, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-2016
3/5 ★

i love art related books, and STILL LIFE WITH TORNADO was exactly what my art-lovin'-self needed. the story follows a girl who is struggling with an 'existential crisis' and can't seem to draw anymore. in reality, i think she's suffering from PTSD. i didn't expect this book to be about tough situations, but i didn't mind that it was.

one thing i enjoyed was that there is no romance – at all. it's rare to find a contemporary YA novel with absolutely no romance, and i felt that this was more r
Ryan Buckby
Jul 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
I'm very surprised by this book, wow just wow it was very strange but very unique in it's own way and i actually really enjoyed this one more then expected.

It was a good story and excellent writing, i got the chance to meet the author speak about her writing processes and how she comes up with book ideas. Her writing and the way she thinks are very similar which is so good to see in real life and on the page.

I had never read a book by A.S. King before or even heard of her books until i went to
Jul 31, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: good-characters
magical realism (I liked how seeing her past and the future made her decide who she is in the present. And this idea had become perfect with the other Sarahs.)
writing (It was easy to read and made me want to keep reading. Even though it had many problems that I'll mention in the dislikes.)
characters (The characters were different with distinguishing characteristics.)
ending (it wasn't a dark ending so it was great.)
emotions (I could empathize with Sarah's emotions, es
Sarah B
This must be one of the most strange books I've ever read and I've read a lot of books. The topic in here is very heavy and to make it more confusing there are very strong elements of quantum mechanics in the story as well. And it's those quantum elements that really make the story so bizarre. As I was reading I truthfully didn't know if the main character was going crazy or what...and yes, it can also be a little frustrating too maybe because it's just so out there. The book isn't really advert ...more
madeline ♡
Mar 15, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2018
this was a ... weird read for me. it was interesting but hard to get into, and overall, i was getting some weeeirdd vibes. i didn't love sarah; her narration was repetitive, melodramatic, and teenage-angsty. i'm not trying to discredit what she had been through or her experience, but i personally just did not like the writing of the story. helen's (her mother's) chapters were my favorite because they were like mini life lessons and the few pages we got from her were more powerful than the many M ...more
Text Publishing
Mar 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, ya
‘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.’
New York Times

‘You’ll find Still Life’s exploration of an artist’s inner strength particularly enriching.’
Teen Vogue

‘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 outd
Dec 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A.S. King doesn't play around- she is easily one of the best YA writers today; I would recommend any of her books in a heartbeat. Each one filled with magical realism elements that are unique & stand out from other books with similar concepts; characters that you don't quite understand at first only to have them completely shatter your heart at the end. That's pretty much what I would summarize her work down to: books that can crush you with one blow. Each one powerful enough to hold your
I know you wanted to let it go. I did, too, when I was you. But some things you just can't paint over.

This novel snuck up on me. I honestly did not expect to fall in love with it as much as I did. I even contemplated marking this one as a DNF for, oh, I don't know, about the first 40 pages or so. The repetitiveness of the text was a little frustrating initially, and it didn't serve to capture my interest as fast as I would have liked. But out of nowhere, this novel snatched me up and even no
Krista Regester
Nov 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
There is a long list of things that I really loved about this book. I really appreciated the fact that although there were different narrators - Sarah's dad wasn't one of them. I find that some author's feel the need to give perspective from an abuser.. and it's not necessary.

A.S. King definitely has an acquired style of writing and it's not for everyone - but I'm finding it's for me. The past, future, and really future, Sarahs were an interesting take that could have been used as metaphors but
Cori Reed
Dec 09, 2017 rated it liked it
Not my favourite A.S. King book, but still poignant and easy to read with just the right amount of magic
Nadia King
May 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First up, I have to tell you I am not related to A.S.King although I would love her writing talent.

Still Life with Tornado is a book about art and the art of living. It tells the story of 16-year-old Sarah who is having an existential crisis. Sarah's family is breaking apart or is it already broken? It's a novel about Sarah making peace with her life; with the bits that feel like a burr in her sternum; with the history that has caused the burr and it tells what happens when Sarah drops out of sc
Oct 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I'm not trusting myself to review this one because I really love the author that if I tried to write something about this book, I'm afraid I might blurt out a marriage proposal for this woman (that's how I love her, haha). She always put the books she wrote on a higher class of YA (at least for me). Every.Single.Time. But really, I wish I could tell you at least what this book is about, but it's many things. Like I expected, I get annoyed and won't connect with the character at first. But as the ...more
Cindy Newton
Aug 14, 2019 rated it liked it
I'm a little on the fence with this one. The story is engaging and I really wanted to know what happened, but I found the main character, Sarah, extremely annoying for the first half of the book. Clearly, she is acting out from some sort of trauma that she has experienced, but it just annoyed the hell out of me--I don't know why. It just seemed random. I mean, following a homeless man around? Eating out of garbage cans? Sleeping on a park bench at night and going for a week without bathing or ch ...more
Roberta R. (Offbeat YA)
Excerpt from my review - originally published at Offbeat YA.

Pros: Original, bold premise. Honest, profound exploration of pain and trauma (albeit initially blocked/disregarded by the characters). Validation of teens' feelings and issues.
Cons: The main character's dry, sometimes self-deprecating quips may not sit well with everyone.
WARNING! Domestic abuse. An inappropriate relationship (barely on page).
Will appeal to: Those who want to look at all-too-real teen problems through a surreal, but ex
Feb 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Huge thank you to Penguin Canada for this ARC!

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
Asheley T.
Dec 01, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016-read
I wish I would have liked this one more. It pains me to say that.

There is a fantastic story here with this family. It is not all positive, but the underlying story involving Sarah's family is so well-written that I FELT IT DEEPLY. But the multiple-Sarah angle was difficult for me. I genuinely felt like the multiple versions of Sarah overshadowed this really wonderful opportunity for the rest of the plot. The multiple Sarah's were confusing and made the story feel cluttered. I felt like I wanted
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A.S. King is the author of the highly-acclaimed I CRAWL THROUGH IT, Walden Award winner GLORY O'BRIEN'S HISTORY OF THE FUTURE, REALITY BOY, 2013 LA Times Book Prize winner ASK THE PASSENGERS, 2012 ALA Top Ten Book for Young Adults EVERYBODY SEES THE ANTS, and 2011 Michael L. Printz Honor Book PLEASE IGNORE VERA DIETZ and THE DUST OF 100 DOGS as well as a collection of award-winning short stories f ...more

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