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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.