Friday, June 25, 2010

Review: A Map of the Known World by Lisa Ann Sandell

Title: A Map of the Known World
Series: N/A
Book #: N/A
Author: Lisa Ann Sandell
Source: Library
Published: 2009

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.

(taken from

Amber's thoughts:
I am having a difficult time gathering my thoughts about this one. While I didn't love it, I didn't dislike it. There were some profound emotions and morals in this novel, and A Map of the Known World deserves credit for being an inspirational yet heart-wrenching novel. Still, I didn't fall head-over-heels for the plot or for any of the characters. 

I wanted so badly to love this book. The premise and cover reached out to me. To be honest, I can't quite put my finger on what I didn't like about this one. I know that I liked the overall feel and moral of the story. Sandell opened my eyes to the pain and sorrow of a grieving family. The tragedy of Nate's death struck a hard blow to Cora's family, and I watched as they began to pick themselves up and move on with their lives.

Books like this always make me wish that I had some teensy bit of artistic talent. Art is Cora's escape, her safe haven. I enjoyed seeing the world through her eyes and experiencing art through the creator's mind. 

One of the tiny details that bothered me was the age difference between Damian and Cora. To me, Cora seems like a girl becoming a young woman. It is Cora's first year in high school, and she's just stepping into the world of teenage angst. Damian is already a senior and has experienced so much more than Cora. Age differences between characters usually don't bother me, but this one just seemed to stick out like a sore thumb. 

Overall, I'd probably recommend this one to some of my friends. It's a quick read and won't take you long to finish. A story of grief and self-discovery, A Map of the Known World entertained and enlightened me.


The Library Lurker said...

I really liked this book, I'm sorry that you didn't love it. You did a nice job explaning your thoughts!

YA Book Queen said...

Aww, that's too bad that it wasn't quite what you wanted it to be. I've been so curious about this one, I might still give it a try :)