Family life comes to an abrupt halt for 14-year-old Cora after the death of her older brother, Nate, in a car accident. Dreading her entrance to high school seven months after the event ("If he had still been alive, I might have had a fighting chance at being able to distance myself from him.... Now I'll be the girl whose brother died") and with her parents lost to their numbing grief, Cora finds sustenance in her passion for maps and mapmaking. A new friend, the encouragement of an art teacher and growing interest in her brother's best friend, Damian, who was in the car when he was killed, all slowly revive her emotional life and self-confidence. Sandell creates a satisfying tension by juxtaposing Cora's grief and anger at her parents with her developing attraction to Damian and her growing sense of possibility about her own future. Sandell's two previous novels were written in verse and, despite occasional emotional editorializing, her fluid phrasing and choice of metaphors give her prose a quiet poetic ambience. Ages 12-up. (Apr.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
A Map of the Known Worldby Lisa Sandell
Cora Bradley dreams of escape. Ever since her reckless older brother, Nate, died in a car crash, Cora has felt suffocated by her small town and high school. She seeks solace in drawing beautiful maps, envisioning herself in exotic locales. When Cora begins to fall for Damian, the handsome, brooding boy who was in the car with Nate the night he died, she uncovers her… See more details below
Cora Bradley dreams of escape. Ever since her reckless older brother, Nate, died in a car crash, Cora has felt suffocated by her small town and high school. She seeks solace in drawing beautiful maps, envisioning herself in exotic locales. When Cora begins to fall for Damian, the handsome, brooding boy who was in the car with Nate the night he died, she uncovers her brother's secret artistic life and realizes she had more in common with him than she ever imagined. With stunning lyricism, Sandell weaves a tale of one girl's journey through the redemptive powers of art, friendship, and love.
They say no land remains to be discovered, no continent is left unexplored. But the whole world is out there, waiting, just waiting for me. I want to do things-I want to walk the rain-soaked streets of London, and drink mint tea in Casablanca. I want to wander the wastelands of the Gobi desert and see a yak. I think my life's ambition is to see a yak. I want to bargain for trinkets in an Arab market in some distant, dusty land. There's so much. But, most of all, I want to do things that will mean something.
-- From A MAP OF THE KNOWN WORLD.
Gr 9 Up
In this contemporary coming-of-age story, 14-year-old Cora is emotionally isolated from her parents following the death of her older brother, Nate. As she begins high school, his absence looms large. His "bad boy" reputation makes mention of him off-limits. Only his best friend and accident survivor, Damian, knows who Nate really was. As Cora becomes his friend in art class, Damian slowly reveals Nate's true passion, character, and plans. But her parents blame Damian for the accident and Cora is forced to keep her newfound understanding a secret. Resolution eventually unfolds in a somewhat predictable but satisfying chain of events. Cora is multifaceted, well developed and appropriately contradictory. Her epiphanies about art being the answer to life's problems are overly dramatic but they do obviate the despair and longing for inner peace that she feels. Unfortunately Damian, the one readers are perhaps most curious about, remains more of an enigma. Sandell's story is richly textured with day-to-day complications including the loss of a best friend to a popular clique, budding romance, a father who is drowning his grief in gin, a suddenly overprotective mother, and Cora's own creative potential. But these complications sometimes distract and slow the pace. This book will appeal to students who have experienced the death of someone close, although the depth of that grief is more keenly presented in Brent Runyon's Maybe (Knopf, 2006) or Katherine Spencer's Saving Grace (Harcourt, 2006).-Sue Lloyd, Franklin High School, Livonia, MI
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