Latest Read: A Map of the Known World

Here are the basics ...
Book: A Map of the Known World
Author: Lisa Ann Sandell
Category: Young Adult - Contemporary

Summary: 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. (Adapted
My thoughts…
The good:  A Map of the Known World is a book that's meant to be read slowly and savored, which was definitely a change of pace for me. Usually I'm scrambling to find out answers or hoping for some major conflict to be resolved. That's not the case here.  It's an exploration of grief, Cora's and her parents, due to the loss of her older brother Nate.  She's dealing with a dad who's completely shut down and a mother who thinks being as strict as possible will keep her daughter safe. And on top of all that, Cora is starting her freshmen year of high school.  It's a lot for a young girl to handle.  Transitioning to high school is awkward. You lose friends and make new ones. The boys you thought weren't so cute suddenly are. More importantly, you start to figure who you are or could be.  The author does an amazing job of balancing grief and trying to move on with lyrical prose (I can't tell you how many passages I wanted to highlight!) and typical teenage dialogue (there's a bunch of oh-my-goshes thrown in there).

As I read about Cora, I saw something of myself in her.  She's not in any rush to grow up or to change. The most important thing on her mind is art (her passion) and getting away from her overbearing mother and seeing the world (I felt the exact same way in high school!). More so than boys or trying to fit in with the "cool" girls like her best friend Rachel. Which makes her feelings for Damian, her brother's best friend, so surprising to her.  It's not rushed or super intense. If anything, there's something innocent about it.  Maybe it's because she's so young and they start off as friends who are both grieving and who are both artists.  Still, I liked his role in her life.  It's through him that she finally starts to understand her brother and the artist he was too.  She just really comes into her own as the story progresses, even finding her own niche at school that has nothing to do with popularity but just being herself.  If there was anything I was hoping for as I read, it was that she'd find her place and she and her family would find some semblance of peace.

(Very minor) reservations: I had a little trouble wrapping my head around Cora's age.  If she's starting high school, that makes her 14 years old.  I kept imagining that she was older, like at least 16.  Especially when she becomes close to Damian, who I'm guessing was at least three or four years older than her. Call me old-fashioned but I was a little distracted by the age difference.

Do I recommend?:  If you're in the mood for a slow but touching introspective read, I'd definitely recommend this.

Happy reading!


  1. Sometimes, it's good to read books that are more introspective and thoughtful. It makes a nice change from action-packed dystopians! I think I better check this one out :)

  2. I enjoyed reading your post. It sounds like a very nice book, I like how you described that the main character, was more concerned about her art than fitting in and trying to get into the cool crowd. I think there a so many other books that focus on popularity so it's a nice change.

  3. Oh! A slow, savory grief book? I am SO interested!


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