cover image Still Life Las Vegas

Still Life Las Vegas

James Sie, illus. by Sungyoon Choi. St. Martin’s, $25.99 (368p) ISBN 978-1-250-05566-8

Sie’s debut novel is an often mesmerizing look at grief and coming of age. Walter Stahl works at a Vegas tourist attraction, killing time after finishing his high school coursework months before graduation. Walter and his father, Owen, moved to Vegas when Walter’s grief-stricken mom, Emily, vanished after an accident that killed her daughter, Georgia. Against flashbacks showing both Emily’s flight from the Midwest and Owen’s search for her, Walter meets two talented living statues, the brother and sister Chrysto and Acacia, and finds himself falling in love with Chrysto. Sie’s admirable ambition leads to occasional stumbles. In addition to playing with time and character viewpoints, the book becomes a graphic novel for certain sequences; the scope eventually contains Emily’s childhood (which includes a crucial moment the reader will see coming). Though the flow is occasionally uneven, the resulting story is engrossing, more than enough to make up for the slight flaws. (Aug.)