Sixteen-year-old Sarah has always defined herself as an artist, an avid and talented drawer who prides herself on making keen and detailed observations of the world around her. She may be one of the only people who really sees the homeless man creating his own bizarre form of art near her Philadelphia neighborhood. She sees injustice and unoriginality, things that have made it impossible for her to continue making her own art or even attending school, which she now considers meaningless. Lately she’s been seeing past and future versions of herself. So why does she find it impossible to see her own troubled family clearly?
When she is visited by her 10-year-old self, Sarah is finally forced to confront something that happened on a family trip to Mexico when she was 10, something that prompted her beloved older brother to leave the family and never return. Perhaps, at long last, she can see her family with clear, open eyes—and thereby find her way back to making the art that sustains her.
A.S. King is known for crafting deeply sympathetic portraits of teenagers in crisis, and Still Life with Tornado is no exception. Readers who travel with Sarah through her past, present and future are likely to become—like Sarah herself—disoriented and absorbed by visions that border on the surreal and by questions about the reliability of memory that may prompt readers to see their own worlds just a little differently.