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T come to grips with years spent sleepwalking in the ruins of their toxic marriageAs Sarah herself often observes nothing about her pain is remotely original and yet it still hurtsInsightful heartbreaking and ultimately hopeful this is a vivid portrait of abuse survival resurgence that will linger with readers long after the last pag. 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 GoodrichAS 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 new art all the while internally suffering for the bruises that she got six years ago on a trip to Mexico and also the virulent life that is closing in on her her thereby choking her to a mental paranoia Running away seems the only answer but will all her uestions be answeredSynopsis 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 ueso 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 futureBut 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 Sarah the 16 year old one is running She is not running from herself she is running away from the virulent relationship between her mother and father between whom she is trapped into Sarah faces problem with her creativity as she fails to create any original with her talent instead she follows a homeless painter Earl to a wild road trip only to find conclusion to her own future past and present But the problem lies deep within her mind and her soul where there are three Sarahs a 10 year old a 23 year old and a 40 year old who are trying to let Sarah uench her thirst for the lingering uestions for so long and to find solutions to the existing problems of her lifeSo many diverse characters lying deep within the boundary of one central character each being a stranger to one another From the synopsis itself the book enchanted me with the idea of multiple characters embodied within one but once I trod my way into the story I was taken aback with the surprise that was waiting for me in the folds of this story that is mind it not only purely dark and raw but also extremely real and painful to grasp it into our emotional systems The author s writing style is extraordinary very strong and complete with layers that are revealed one after another in a gradual flow The narrative is highly engaging right from the very beginning and holds the power to uestions it own retrospective voice all the while keeping the readers glued into its deepest core The emotions run deep raw and wild without any limitation and holds the power to drown the readers with its intensity The pacing of the story is bit moderate as the story unravels through tons of layers that only gives depth and insight into the characters lives The characters are extremely well developed with enough realism reflecting through their demeanor The central character who is a 16 year old girl has been voiced strikingly through the storm that is raging on in her mind and soul and also through the distinction among the three other characters lurking deep within herself who are diverse in their manners and behavior But what actually makes Sarah an exceptional character is not her emotional or mental turmoil but the way she handles her life after meeting Earl how she fights to bring balance in her life is brilliantly portrayed Sarah is psychologically flawed yet her flaws and darkness will keep that grip into the readers minds all throughout the story line The other characters especially the mother father lost brother and Earl all play a major role to the story which the author have smartly captivated through Sarah s tale If you think even for once that this book is about abuse then you re wrong marriage and messed up relationships play a huge part in this story while the backdrop being of teenage abuse and mental trauma Although in this story the author draws a fine line that runs closely together between imagination and reality so the readers might get lost into a seedy world of realism and imagination In a nutshell this story is uniue heart breaking enlightening and alluring enough to make the readers feel for the story as well as for the characters and I bet there are many teenager readers who are either facing the same trouble like Sarah or have faced them in the past will relate to this story stronglyVerdict A must read not for the story but for a teenage fractured protagonist Courtesy Thanks to the publishers for giving me an opportunity to read and review this book

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Still Life with Tornado

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 PhiladelphiaOr maybe she’s finally waking up to. 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 this becomes even worse in cases of abuse in relationships with parents because no one will listen It s easy to pat the kid on the head and say it s okay you imagined it everything will be fine But does that even matter Your kid is there now they re being screwed up now God maybe it s hard to convey how much this book meant to me Even these words are coming off as teen angst to half my readership aren t they Maybe it s worth considering why is it teen angst when it s a sixteen year old and real emotions when it s a forty year old What s the real difference when both of us are people humans with emotions and feelings and moods and anger I don t know why I m sorry I don t know why I m scared to make my mother angry My emotions are smaller than they should be I m the one who should be angry but I m cranky or upset As if a sixteen year old can t be angry for real Okay Let s talk about why this book Sarah s voice especially stands out here She s a very different person from me but her voice felt so incredibly authentic to me She speaks in absolutes all or nothings I just felt as if I could dissect her voice dissect every thing she said and get to the heart of her character This book is also about another topic and I think it ll be uite easy to guess if you check a few reviews And maybe it s best to go in cold and not knowing what this book is about but as it might be triggering for readers this book deals primarily with abuse And I absolutely adored how this topic was dealt with Hitting a person is the same as screaming at a person is the same as head hands and traps and bait and all that hard to define emotional abuse This is why I never said anything about Miss Smith It s why I never took my headpiece seriously It s sneaky It hides under other words and other actions That s all abuse ever is That sliver of tissue is power A uick note about the topic for those who have read this book view spoilerWhat I liked about this is the handling of emotional abuse on the part of the lead also character s father directed at her older sibling It is something the main character has severely repressed which is a topic I haven t seen handled before Which I think is ultimately why I connected with it so much This just felt so new and so different but so relatable hide spoiler

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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 uite 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 mus. 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 and her parents refuse to talk about it Here s what I think I think we re really smart when we re young Ten year old Sarah is smarter than I am because I m six years older Twenty three year old Sarah is dumber than me because I m sixteen Someone somewhere was way older and richer and dumber than all of us and paid forty five million dollars for a bunch of dots I think this kind of smart isn t something they can measure with tests I think it s like being psychic or being holy If I could be anyone for the rest of my life I would be a little kid Sarah Sarah was an aspiring artist and I loved how that part of her life is integrated into the story especially the concept of a tornado as something that is one thing on the outside but another thing on the inside Sarah is at a point in her life where adults are constantly asking her about her future but she hasn t even dealt with her past She s unable to stay in the present which is where the future and past Sarahs come in Versions of Sarah at different stages in life materialize to help her process her trauma Ten year old Sarah is still a happy kid and the memories of the vacation are still fresh for her Twenty three year old Sarah can barely remember being sixteen and thinks sixteen year old Sarah is silly and dramatic Sixteen year old Sarah looks up to forty year old Sarah who is the most self assured What surprised me is that these Sarahs aren t hallucinations other people can see them The older people get the less they can do about things They seem to be stuck They seem to be glue Sarah Sarah s mom Helen gets to tell her side of the story Helen s chapters help illuminate parts that Sarah doesn t understand Helen s story shows how easy it is to get stuck in a bad situation and how hard it is to see in the middle of a storm It also shows how attempts to make things better can actually make them worse Likewise sometimes making things worse can make them better There are also flashbacks to the family vacation Everything seems relatively normal at first but there are clear indications that there is something stirring under the surface Can t you just pretend to have a good time Why pretend Aren t we doing enough pretending as it is Between her mother s chapters and the day by day reveal of the trip to Mexico we get a clearer picture of why Sarah is so depressed 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 Sarah I identified with twenty three year old Sarah at first because I didn t know if would be interested in sixteen year old Sarah for the entire book Like the protagonist in We Are the Ants Sarah is depressed and expresses repetitive thoughts She has received so many unintentionally damaging messages from trusted adults that she now feels very little control over her life She wants to disappear and is no longer interested in the hobbies she used to love Sarah knows that breaking your brain is the same as breaking your arm but she still feels shame about her situation Sarah initially sees her problems as too small to bother anyone with but she learns that her problems do matter She doesn t have to be strong and deal with it alone It s refreshing that romance was not part of this book Sarah s potential recovery has to come from within herself with the support of her family Here s why I like making things I like making things because when I was born everything I was born into was already made for me Art let me surround myself with something different Something new Something real Something that was mine I don t know if this means I could also be a competent architect Or a car mechanic Or a carpenter I just like constructing new things that are real I believe this is a side effect of growing from seed in soil made of lies I believe this is a side effect of being born into ruins this need for construction Sarah Still Life with Tornado deals with mental health the many forms of abuse and family issues Sarah s story is much darker than mine but I could relate to the disillusionment that springs from a confusing parental situation that s never directly addressed I loved the concept of different Sarahs the way art played a part in the story and Sarah s realizations at the end If you liked We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson you might be interested in this book You can t change people with love It doesn t work that way Helen I was reminded of a uote from Cruel Beautiful World You don t know what you re seeing sometimes when you see itYou don t know how bad it can get I received this book for free from Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review It s available for purchase


10 thoughts on “Still Life with Tornado

  1. says:

    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

  2. says:

    ‘‘Still Life with Tornado’’ had me fooledI thought it was all about Sarah and her teenage existential crisis at firstBut it’s not just about her It’s about her her mother her father her brother her family her future and her pastI’ve read dozens and dozens of books dealing with the topic of abuse yet this one manages

  3. says:

    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 disco

  4. says:

    ►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

  5. says:

    Writing a review for this book doesn't seem originalview spoilerRead the book to find out why hide spoiler

  6. says:

    Sarah is in the middle of an existential crisis She stops going to school and spends her days visiting abandoned structures in Philadelphia An

  7. says:

    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 AS 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

  8. says:

    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 AS 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 “d

  9. says:

    “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 GoodrichAS King an award winning and bestselling American author pens a heart wrenching tale

  10. says:

    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