Saturday, December 3, 2016

STILL LIFE WITH TORNADO BY A.S. KING - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another review, today it is Still Life with Tornado by A.S. King.



I have yet to come across an A.S. King novel that I haven't liked, and almost sure it will never happen.

Personally, I think the best way to go into a King novel is to know nothing about the story in which you are about to read. You really need to go in knowing nothing too specific about the story. That being said, I want to briefly talk about some things that you may not want to know before going into this book. Consider yourself warned.

This is the story of Sarah. She is sixteen years old and has stopped going to school. No one knows why. Her older brother left when he was nineteen, about 6 years ago, when the family got home from their trip to Mexico. Apparently he was baptized in a river and never looked back. So it's just Sarah and her parents. Her mom, Helen, is an ER night nurse and her dad, Chet, works in insurance. They haven't shared a room for as long as Sarah can remember; they sleep in different beds. They bicker, but for Sarah all of this is normal. Her life is, for the most part, normal. It's unoriginal. And that bother's her.

Through a journey with her past selves, 10-, 23- and 40-year old Sarah, sixteen year old Sarah discovers her own path, the dark secrets within her parents marriage and the real reason Bruce, her brother, left home (hint: he didn't join a cult).

I don't want to talk anymore on what this book is about plot-wise, because as I said, it really is best going in blind.

I do want to talk about a major aspect shown throughout the novel; domestic abuse. I think King did a brilliant job depicting Chet's behaviour throughout the novel, and she really showed this abuse in a realistic way. Things don't get too graphic, but she handles the issue very well. While he never lays a hand on Sarah, we see glimpses of the past, hitting Bruce so hard his tooth falls out, and breaking Helen's ribs with the dinner table.

I really appreciated the fact that King, while sensitive to the situation, never forces the blame on the victims, and she shows that such abuse, while often born out of poverty, doesn't always occur there. Sarah's family is fairly well-off, probably middle class, and both parents work. Sometimes in novels about abuse, the wife is depicted as a character who doesn't know any better, this is the way life has been with her parents, so this is the life it will be with her husband. Helen realizes that things are not right, but she has no where else to turn. King does a wonderful job of showing that abuse can happen anywhere, at anytime, with anyone. Helen is a nurse, she is trained to see what she calls "battered women." She never thought she would become one. But King breaks those stereotypes, she shows that abuse transcends socio-economic classes. Yes, it is more common in lower income brackets, it affects people in all of them.

I've read all of King's novels published to date and I think this might be my new favourite one. She still adds her signature magical realism with the different Sarah's, but she deals with a serious issue that affects too many people.

Don't be fooled by this book. You will go into a King novel thinking it will be about one thing, and the she makes it about something else completely. While this book does deal with Sarah's existential crisis, it is also a poignant story about abuse and the darkness within the world.

Highly, highly recommend!