cover image Still Life With Tornado

Still Life With Tornado

A.S. King, read by Karissa Vacker. Listening Library, unabridged, 7 CDs, 9 hrs., $45 ISBN 978-0-7352-8751-8

Sarah is 16 and going through an emotional crisis. She is a talented artist but she has stopped creating art, as well as going to school. Instead, she spends her days wandering around Philadelphia, where she literally encounters other versions of herself. She meets 10-year-old Sarah, 23-year-old Sarah, and even 40-year-old Sarah—all of whom try to get her to face traumatic memories and truths that she has been repressing and denying. Voice actor Vacker’s first-person narration empathetically conveys all the complexities and nuances of Sarah’s emotional state: denial and defensiveness, confusion, fear, anger, and pain. Listeners feel the character struggling to understand her family problems and work out her inner turmoil, while simultaneously trying to avoid doing so by creating a stable facade. Vacker subtly differentiates among the book’s characters but doesn’t create unique voices for them. For example, she uses a higher pitch to sound childish for 10-year-old Sarah, a deeper, angry pitch for Sarah’s father. This production excellently brings to life the novel’s portrayal of a teenager struggling to survive and overcome childhood trauma. Ages 14–up. A Dutton hardcover. (Oct.)