Still Life with Tornado

A.S. King

fiction contemporary magical realism young adult
reflective slow-paced

295 pages | first published 2016

“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.”

What the community thinks

summary of 281 ratings (see reviews)

Content warnings


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Moods

emotional 88%
dark 55%
hopeful 55%
reflective 44%
challenging 22%
inspiring 22%
sad 22%
funny 11%
informative 11%
tense 11%

Pace

medium 100%

Strong character development?

Yes: 100%

Loveable characters?

It's complicated: 66% | Yes: 33%

Diverse cast of characters?

No: 66% | It's complicated: 33%

Flaws of characters centre-stage?

Yes: 100%

Average rating

3.99
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