A Map of the Known World

( 27 )

Overview


From critically beloved author Lisa Ann Sandell comes this poignant, unputdownable story of a teen girl who learns to shake off her brother's shadow by becoming an artist.

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 ...

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A Map of the Known World

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Overview


From critically beloved author Lisa Ann Sandell comes this poignant, unputdownable story of a teen girl who learns to shake off her brother's shadow by becoming an artist.

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.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

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.
Children's Literature - Heather Robertson Mason
Cora's brother is dead. Her parents are consumed with grief. Her friends do not know what to say to her. Cora is angry at her brother for driving as irrationally as he did that night. To top if off, she is in the same art class as her brother's best friend—the one who was with him the night he died, the one her parents blame for his death, the one she is attracted to anyway. And to think that art was her only escape. This is how the book begins. There is little action and the romance is downplayed. There are no big, dramatic scenes or any happy endings, either (although the ending is not necessarily sad). Despite these traits, this is a beautiful story about grief and healing. These are difficult topics to handle without becoming melodramatic, yet the author does it delicately, patiently and realistically. While the text is not too difficult to read, it is a book for high level readers because of it's subtly. Even when dealing with typical adolescent topics, like friends growing apart, with the author does not use a fight in the hallway. Rather, the story is told through unreturned phone calls or a changing of seats in the cafeteria, the way these stories often play out in life. Just like Cora has to slowly learn how to deal with the changes in her life, so does the reader. Yet Cora is an artist. She turns her pain into something beautiful—just like this author turns what could be a sappy story into a piece of art. Reviewer: Heather Robertson Mason
School Library Journal

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

Kirkus Reviews
Aspiring cartographer-and introvert-Cora has endured a lot of negative changes in the last four months. Her brother Nate's death in a car accident has torn her family apart. Now she has to start high school as "the girl whose brother died." She's also growing apart from her best friend. There's nowhere for her to escape in her small town, so she fuels her dreams of travel by studying and expanding the world map she has in her bedroom. Advanced Art class is the one place Cora thought she could find refuge, until her brother's best friend, Damian Archer, shows up. Art brings Cora and Damian into a heady romance. It also gives Cora the strength to make herself happy, and to defy her parents in pursuit of learning more about Nate. Cora's voice is often too wise and mature, but the slow pacing accurately portrays the way that a few months in the life of a freshman can seem like eternity. The attractive cover will draw romance readers, who are in for a satisfying read if they can get past the first 50 pages. (Fiction. YA)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780545069700
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 4/15/2009
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 1,408,874
  • Age range: 12 years
  • Lexile: 800L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author


Lisa Ann Sandell studies sculpture, is re-learning to play the trumpet, and, like Cora, has always found art and writing to be a driving force in her life. She is the author of THE WEIGHT OF THE SKY, which was named one of the New York Public Library’s Books for the Teen Age, and SONG OF THE SPARROW, which was a BookSense Summer 2007 pick and which Publishers Weekly called "unique and eloquently wrought" in a starred review. Lisa works as a children’s books editor and lives in New York City with her husband, the author Liel Leibovitz, and their dog, Molly. Please visit her online at www.lisaannsandell.com
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 27 )
Rating Distribution

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(17)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 27 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 18, 2012

    Really great

    I am in the middle so far and i want to cry!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 5, 2012

    What World or is it which world?

    It's soooo good to think one might know where they is.

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  • Posted February 27, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    from missprint.wordpress.com

    A Map of the Known World (April 2009) is Lisa Ann Sandell's third novel (it was also the first book I have discovered that was edited by Aimee Friedman a neat-o YA author in her own right whom I met very, very, very briefly at a reading). She has two other critically acclaimed novels under her belt. According to her website, those previous books were written in verse. I feel like saying that now because I want to address the tone of the book now, before saying anything else about it. At times the writing felt erratic--sometimes profoundly authentic, at other times very much like a writer writing as a teen. That might be due in part to Sandell's experience with free verse. It might also be because I was reading and uncorrected advanced proof. I don't know, but I wanted to point it out all the same. Now you know.

    Cora's life fell apart with a sudden crash. The Bradley family had been falling apart for some time, but when Cora's older brother Nate dies in a car crash, everything is irreparably and irrevocably broken. In his wake Nate has left Cora with nothing. Her father has retreated into his private den and his daily gin and tonics. Her mother is a shadow of her former self, going through the motions of their normal life while issuing rules meant to protect Cora when, in reality, they only suffocate her.

    Cora is left adrift unsure how to deal with the anger she has for her brother or anything else. Cora isn't sure she can deal with starting high school as the girl with a dead brother. She can barely even deal with her small town and all of its constant reminders of the way things used to be:

    Somewhere, things must be beautiful and vivid. Somewhere else, life has to beautiful and vivid and rich. Not like this muted palette--a pale blue bedroom, washed out sunny sky, dull green yellow brown of the fields. Here, I know every twist of every road, every blade of grass, every face in this town, and I am suffocating.

    Lacking any other support system, Cora finds a refuge in her art. Working from a salvaged map, Cora sketches exotic locations in far off lands--places that Cora is sure are the key to her salvation.

    In addition to dealing with Nate's death, Cora has to deal with the more mundane matter of starting high school. As her best friend throws herself into their new environment, Cora finds herself at the sidelines trying to figure out what it means to be growing up, especially when she knows her brother never can.

    Cora never gets to the locations she draws in her maps, but her art does lead her to something equally important: An identity beyond Nate Bradley's little sister. With the help of Damian Archer, the other boy in the car when Nate died, Cora also learns the truth about her brother and, perhaps, a way to fix the hole Nate left in her family after the accident.

    Sandell expertly deals with Cora's struggles to redefine herself in relation to this tragedy and her broken family. At times the writing veers toward the overwrought, but for the most part, the writing holds true. Cora is also shockingly authentic in both her grief and, I think, in her changing relationships with other characters. I often complain that teen characters are nothing like me or any of the teens I know, but Cora is. Thrown into high school without a map, Cora's confusion over suddenly being a "real" teenager and having to find new friends will ring true with many readers.

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  • Posted June 29, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Lyrical, Beautiful Story

    SYNOPSIS: It has been less than a year since Cora's brother, Nate wrapped his car around a tree and died. Since that time, her family has been falling apart. Her mother keeps her trapped in the house, she's not allowed to go anywhere or do anything. Her father doesn't even speak to her, he just sits in his den watching TV, drinking. The only escape Cora has is in her drawings. Cora draws maps, maps of other countries, countries that she hopes to be able to visit one day.

    As Cora's mother starts getting more unreasonable and strict, Cora gets more defiant and starts breaking the rules. Not coming home right after school, sneaking out, hanging out with Damian; Nate's best friend and the one person that her parents blame for Nate's death, since he survived and Nate did not. It is Damian, however, that helps Cora to learn more about Nate, and leads her down a path of recovery and also of possible escape.

    REVIEW: Map of the Known World has a very lyrical feel about it, making it a very enjoyable read. I was caught up in the story within the first chapter and really enjoyed Cora's voice. She was very typical teenager-y to me, a little one sided, not really looking at the situation from anyone's point of view but her own. I loved her "art" as told through words, and actually wished I could see some of her work in real life.

    Everything about this book felt very real to me. Even the friendship between Cora and Rachel, the crumbling relationship due to High School and differences of interest; this is something that happens all the time, and is always a little earth shattering to the participants. Growing up is hard to do, growing up due to tragedy is even harder, I can only guess. I think Cora's rebellion was even natural and normal, and necessary for her as a person. She was breaking free from her restraints in her own way, and I felt that it has she not done it, she really would not have made any progress in her life, and recovery.

    This was a tragic and sad book without being overwhelming. The book was also left a little up in the air, there was no pretty red bow wrap up, which is good because it left the reader knowing (hoping) for more growth and healing, and just knowing that life continues.

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  • Posted May 28, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    More than beautiful.

    The imagery and writing style of this novel is beautiful enough to stand alone, however the characters, and their grief, is what made this novel truly unforgettable. Many times I was moved to tears, as opposed to some teen novels, where death hasn't as much importance. I was hooked from the very beginning. Sandell is a fantastic author who spends less time on worrying about pumping out novels at superhuman speed, and more paying attention to the quality of them. Overall, it was an easy, satisfying read, that I only put down to eat a delicious dinner.

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  • Posted April 9, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A Map of the Known World by Lisa Sandell

    I see this as one of the best YA books of 2009....

    How many of us think about the world we know versus the world to which we wish to travel? Cora Bradley is wishing for an escape, anywhere but her angry and sorrowful home since the death of her reckless brother Nate. Then add entering high school, changes in her best friend, and having art with Damien who was in the car when Nate wrapped it around that tree.

    Cora draws exquisite maps of the world she wishes to see, and ends up creating a map of the world she knows. I have not read such a profound book about the different faces of grief. Will her parents loosen the vise of protection from her? Will Cora be able to accept the summer art program? Will Damien prove just as volatile as her brother?

    My other YA reviews @ http://whattoreadwhattoread.blogspot.com

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  • Posted October 25, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    i loveeee this book

    i absolutely fell in love with these characters!!! you can connect to them so easily and you just fall in love with the main guy. you should read this book. =]

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  • Posted April 8, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Jennifer Rummel for TeensReadToo.com

    Anger and pain consume Cora; they have since last year when her brother died.

    Now her family's broken, barely speaking to each other and barely surviving. Nate's the one who died, but Cora feels the brunt of her parent's disappointment, sadness, and anger.

    She's not allowed out after dark, she must come straight home from school, and she can't get into a car without a parent's approval. .

    All summer long, she's spent the days inside her room imagining the places in the world she'd rather be, while drawing maps and pictures of her travels. Now she must face reality and start high school.

    She doesn't enter as an unknown, but as the sister of her dead brother. Everyone knew Nate, but not everyone liked him.

    Cora's just trying to survive, but along the way her heart opens. She talks to her brother's best friend, who was in the car that night, and things change. He shows her a side of her brother she didn't know.

    Lisa Ann Sandell writes a breathtakingly beautiful and heart-wrenching novel that will haunt you long after you're finished.

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  • Posted March 23, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Angieville: A MAP OF THE KNOWN WORLD

    Ever since I read and loved Sandell's SONG OF THE SPARROW, I have been eager to see what she would write next. I knew it would probably be something quite different. It both was and it wasn't. Where SONG OF THE SPARROW was an Arthurian novel in verse told from the perspective of Elaine of Ascolat, A MAP OF THE KNOWN WORLD is a contemporary prose novel about a girl named Cora's struggle in the wake of her brother's death. What they share is a young woman's attempt to make sense of (and leave her mark on) the changing world around her.

    Cora's brother Nate died in a car crash six months ago. And Cora's been on her own ever since. Grief inhabits all corners of her world now. Her parents effectively collapsed in on themselves after Nate's death, her best friend doesn't know how to talk to her anymore, and Cora is afraid she will forever be known as the little sister of that boy who died. As she prepares to start high school, Cora desperately hopes the horrible stasis she's been existing in will somehow change. Any change will do, really. But one for the better would be nice. Change comes in the form of Damian Archer--her brother's best friend, the boy who was in the car with Nate when it crashed, and the one person everyone blames for Nate's untimely death. Damian gifts Cora with a wealth of unknown details about her brother and unwittingly gives her the key to changing her life.

    This is a story about grief, art, family, and first love. It is a story filled with sadness and Sandell balances this by weaving in those moments of breathless understanding and discovery that only come when one is fifteen. I liked Cora. I found her incredibly strong for being able to withstand her parents' suffocating despair, her friend's gradual defection, and the painful realization that she didn't really know her brother at all. Sandell's storytelling is meticulous and genuine. And it was so refreshing to read about an adolescent girl who seems utterly normal, yet so intent on seeing her world clearly. Cora is definitely fifteen and impressionable. She thinks and talks like a fifteen-year-old, squeeing and ranting at all the appropriate times. Yet she is not content with mundanity. She strives for something more. It was a pleasure to spend time with her (and Damian) and, once again, I look forward to reading whatever Ms. Sandell writes next.

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