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King, A. S.
New York : Dutton Books, 2016
ISBN 1101994886

(3 booktalks)

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Booktalk #1

After her project is destroyed at an art show, 16-year-old Sarah is at a breaking point, questioning whether her life is worth living. Her family is abusive, her art teacher is dismissive and cruel, her brother is missing, and her ability to draw is blocked by the trauma. Wandering the streets of Philadelphia, she meets herself at ages 10, 23 and 40; these alternate selves help her uncover the root of her problems that she has buried in her subconscious for years. She mentally revisits a traumatic vacation leading up to her brother’s leaving, exposing toxic family dynamics that she has continually ignored. A tornado drawn by her friend Carmen, becomes a symbol of the emotional storm that is Sarah’s life. As the truth is revealed, the reader wonders if Sarah has PTSD, if she is schizophrenic, or if she just needs someone to help her deal with the realities of her life.  (Booktalk by Sharon Nehls.

Booktalk #2

Sarah waits at the bus stop. Sarah rides the bus. Sarah has stopped going to her old school, so she finds a new school where she is the only student. Sarah is 16, and 23, and 40, and 10. She’s also not sure she’s Sarah anymore. Since she saw what she saw in the art room, 16-year-old Sarah can’t draw anymore, not even a pear. She can’t remember what 10-year-old Sarah knows about the bad thing that happened in Mexico, or why her brother went away. Maybe the other Sarahs and their long-lost brother Bruce can uncover the true things in their shared history that will return Sarah to her art and to herself. Like A.S. King’s other novels, Still Life with Tornado is at the same time very real and totally magical. Like a tornado, the story brings the reader back to the same points again and again, revealing more secrets with each rotation. (Pennsylvania Young Reader’s Choice Award 2017-2018)

Booktalk #3

Sarah’s having an existential crisis. That’s not new, but this is: she’s seeing her past and future selves on the bus, in the art museum, and walking down the street, trying to help her remember things she’s forgotten. 10-year-old Sarah hints about why they never see their big brother anymore. 23-year-old Sarah wants to get to the bottom of what happened in art class that made them stop going to school. 40-year-old Sarah is worried about their parents, whose marriage is imploding. Is Sarah going crazy? Has she had a break with reality? Or is reality just a little overrated? (Oklahoma High School Sequoyah Award, 2018)

SUBJECTS:     Family secrets -- Fiction. 

Family violence -- Fiction.

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