Skip to main content

A Map of the Known World by Lisa Ann Sandell

A big thanks to Scholastic for sending me an advanced copy of Lisa Ann Sandell's 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. 

Comments

  1. Thanks so much for this review, Angie. I've seen this book cover here and there, but never took the moment to find out more about it. After reading your review, I'm compelled to seek this one out. I admit that I tend to shy away from stories that sound too depressing, but I don't know... this one sounds worth the battering of my emotions. Plus, I think my teen would really like this one, too.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Christine, anytime! And I think it would be one you and your teen could enjoy and talk about after.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

You Might Also Like

Review | If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane

It's been years since I picked up a Mhairi McFarlane novel, and I'm not really sure why that is. I liked  It's Not Me, It's You well enough (it's obvious she's quite a witty writer), but something about the execution felt off and I think I let that keep me from diving deeper into her backlist. Then came an offer to review her upcoming title If I Never Met You , and something about this one seemed to call out to me. As though it was time. As though Laurie and Jamie might be the ones. Spoiler alert: It was and they were. It was the perfect read for a couple of dreary, grey January days. While not perhaps as bubbly as I've Got Your Number , I would definitely recommend it to readers who enjoyed that novel. They share a business setting, two individuals who are more than they know themselves to be, and a wonderfully slow burn romance. Readers who love Sarra Manning and  Beth O'Leary 's  The Flatshare should also take note. Comedy was tragedy plus

Bibliocrack Review | Don't You Forget About Me by Mhairi McFarlane

There's really very little to say, isn't there? I hope you are well, wherever you are. I hope that your loved ones are. I hope that you're finding small ways to stay afloat, to remain connected to something, someone, someplace (real or fictional) that sustains you. Dark and difficult times, indeed. I've rather been holding on to this review. I felt so much, so quickly, so irrevocably for this book that it rapidly became hard to talk about to anyone who hadn't read it. And so I hope I can do it justice, just barely enough justice that, if you haven't, you'll run right out and do so. Now is the perfect time. I feel strongly that this book is what you need in your life at this moment. And so. You might want to prepare yourselves. I'm about to wax rhapsodic. But first, and introductory excerpt: At the end of that session, Fay said, What if it's not what happened with this boy you regret, it's you? It's the  you  who you left behind. It's

Bibliocrack Review | Call Down the Hawk by Maggie Stiefvater

I haven't wanted to talk about this. With  anyone.  But I think I probably need to. That like Georgina, I need to use my words to break the curse. I think that like Sam, I need to believe in my cure. So I'm going to talk about it here, and maybe you can help. Since pandemic type things got real in my neck of the woods, I haven't been able to read. I haven't been able to  reread . This has (and I am not exaggerating) never happened to me before  in my life.  I know it happens frequently to most everyone. And I have certainly always been a mood reader. It's not in any way uncommon for me to drift from book to book, from shelf to shelf in my library, until I land upon the right thing. But that drifting tends to occur over the course of a few hours. Not ever does it occur over the course of a few days or, God forbid, weeks.  I feel like I'm losing my mind. And, yes, I am fully aware of where this problem likely rates on the triviality scale in the current scheme of