cover image Still Life with Tornado

Still Life with Tornado

A.S. King. Dutton, $17.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-101-99488-7

Many factors contribute to 16-year-old Sarah’s decision, during her sophomore year, to drop out of life and spend her days wandering the streets of Philadelphia, stalking a homeless artist, encountering past and future versions of herself, and avoiding what she does best: making art. Someone sabotaged Sarah’s project for her school’s annual art show, her art club friends ostracized her when she determined to find out who was behind it, and her parents’ broken marriage is increasingly toxic. Conversations with her 10-year-old self force Sarah to question the story she’s been told about why the family no longer communicates with her older brother, Bruce. One of the things that sets Sarah’s existential crisis in motion is her art teacher’s comment that there is no such thing as an original idea; clearly, Miss Smith has never read one of King’s novels. The presentation of the surreal as real, the deeply thoughtful questions she poses, the way she empowers her teenage characters to change the trajectory of their lives—King writes with the confidence of a tightrope walker working without a net. Ages 14–up. Agent: Michael Bourret, Dystel & Goderich Literary Management. (Oct.)