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A Map of the Known World

3.78 of 5 stars 3.78  ·  rating details  ·  1,552 ratings  ·  198 reviews
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 brothe ...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published April 15th 2009 by Scholastic Press (first published April 1st 2009)
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Community Reviews

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The real reason I picked this one up: I dig the cover. Hadn’t read anything by Sandell, but I had heard good things about Song of the Sparrow. Really awesome cover + good vibes from a recent book = maybe I should read this one!

Another great novel. I’ve been reading so many lately! A Map of the Known World deals with grief, first love, family, and coming of age. It’s apparent almost from page one that this family is suffering. Each one dealing with their loss in different ways, individually. I su
A Map of the Known World was a beautiful balance of serious sadness, romance, and art. I often fear "sad" books but I loved the way this one balanced itself out. For every heartbreaking passage there was another about finding a romantic connection, a new friend, or creating a beautiful piece of artwork. It worked really well for me.

Cora's situation seemed so hopeless at first, a family living in silence, forever changed by the loss of their brother and son, struggling to understand him and under
Kelly (gangsterdorothy)
I really wanted this book to be so much more. I loved the title of the book and I was initially drawn to the cover as well. I thought I was going to get lost in this world of a girl who puts herself in other places to escape the pressure of every day life. I wasn't expecting fantasy, but I wasn't expecting boring.

The writing was so average. It felt so much like a step by step process and it forced me to skim. It also felt like I was reading lots of things that didn't matter in terms of the whole
Violet Crush
First things first. The cover is gorgeous; I think it’s even better in person and it suits the story perfectly.

Now to the book. Cora’s brother Nate dies in a car accident which suddenly breaks the entire family as each one of them tries to deal with his death in their own ways. The house is not the same, her parents are not the same and everyone in school thinks she is a freak. Moreover she is starting high school the same year. Could it be any more difficult? And then there is Damien, her broth
The cover:

The collection of scrap pieces forming the heart is beautiful (though perhaps a more spray-painted effect would've made it more realistic). Black as a background, however, doesn't fly -- it just looks lazy on the book designer's part. A faintly patterned darkish background would've worked better.

The book:

As expected of this kind of "healing" novel, it opens with much first-person musing. Thanks to Cora's gentle-worded narration, the reader makes it through relatively easily. In fact, h
Steph Su
Being a high school freshman is usually traumatic enough. For Cora Bradley, however, it’s worse than average: she lives in the shadow of her older brother, Nate, a notorious misunderstood troublemaker who killed himself when he drove into a tree. The Bradley household, once a warm and friendly place, is now cold, silent, and overbearing. So Cora throws herself into art, drawing elaborate maps of far-off places in her futile attempt to escape the ghosts of her small town.

Cora must deal with norma
I got this book from the library and sat down thinking, 'Okay, it's not that big. It isn't my type of book at all. Why did I get this again?'. Then i remembered my friends wonderful review and I decided I would go ahead and read it. And I am so glad that I made that decision!
Lisa Ann Sandell not only wrote about a girl who's passion was art, she painted a beautiful and enchanting story. I loved it thoroughly! From the first page I was captured, with the amazing detail and the want to go away, se
Since the death of her older and beloved if reckless brother Nate, Cora has been a little lost. Sure, she can skillfully sketch beautiful maps of foreign places, places she’ll probably never see, but she doesn’t know how to think or act. Her parents don’t seem to notice much anymore unless Cora breaks one of their many strict rules, and even Cora’s best friend Rachel seems distant. It’s all Cora can do just not to get lost within her fried and confusion. The start of high school brings its own t ...more
Christy Stewart
The dead-brother-leaves-behind-little-sister-who-falls-in-love-with-the-guy-(who happens to be the only one that’s ever understood him)-that’s-"responsible"-for-said-brother's-death reminds me of the Korean drama "Snow Queen" Minus the terminal illness. So, it was a much softer version. I was expecting a bad ending but it was very gentle. I feel sorry for Damian though, poor guy had no chance to be anything but misunderstood with a name like that.
Apr 12, 2009 Katie rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: own, arc
Cora Bradley is lost. Ever since her older brother Nate died she hasn't known what to do with herself. Her family is falling apart and she can't seem to relate to her only friend anymore.

Cora and her older brother Nate didn't actually get along very well in his final years of life but now that he is gone it seems like he was the only thing holding their family together. Her father now drowns his problems in alcohol and her mother now spends all her time focusing on how to keep Cora out of troubl
While the books starts off slow and corny, it becomes rich once Cara finds a purpose-- that purpose is to showcase the artwork of her dead brother (the artwork she knew nothing about when he was alive since he was a bad-ass troublemaker). Cara's family life is all but destroyed, as Cara describes her family and house as a cemetary-- her father isolating hiimself and drinking and her mother perpetually sad and uncommunicative. And the person Cara shouldn't be with, Damian, Nate's best friend who ...more
Maggie White
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Cora's family are struck with grief after the death of her brother Nate. They live in silence and everything seems to have changed for the worst. Cora's parents blames Nate's death on his best friend Damien, who was in the car with Nate the night he died. However, Cora and Damien share a passion for art and Damien unfolds a secret about Nate that no one else knew. Cora is so grateful to have found out about this secret and she feels herself healing slowly as she becomes determined to let everyon ...more
A Map of the Known World is an elusive book. I cannot seem to grasp the right words needed to form a complete thought. So let us start from the beginning—my expectations.

I was quite ecstatic that it was actually written as a novel rather than a verse poem. I wanted to see how Ms. Sandell would use her poetic method into paragraph forms. Will it still contain the lovely lyrical melody? Or would it fall flat like a sinking rock? There were some scenes where I can definitely see the melody she once
Apr 15, 2009 Tasha rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: teen
Cora is starting high school, the high school where her dead older brother, Nate, was known as a screw-up and a waster. He died several months ago in a car accident, driving without the headlights on. Now her life is marked by his loss. Her mother is hovering, critical and verging on hysterical while her father drinks away his feelings alone and isolated in his den. Cora escapes from their chaotic life through her art, drawing places on the map and dreaming of actually being there. In high schoo ...more
First off, I would like to start by explaining why this book was so good. The first thing is the author's writing style. Her writing is beautiful and really lyrical. When you read the author's descriptions you just want to sit there for a moment after each sentence and just drink in the feel of the words, the way they work together and the image they create. I think reading Ms. Sandell's writing is like eating chocolate, you just want to savour every last taste. The second thing is her character ...more
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Jennifer Rummel for

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
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 t ...more
Honestly I didn't finish it. The whole thing just felt too depressing and well none of the characters really stood out to me. Honestly I think the writer was trying to go for a lot of drama, but I didn't really feel any of it, since my connection to the characters was weak.

I'm not sure if the main character was well defined in the writer's mind, because I found her hard to grasp. It all just seems like it's been done before, the high school scene, the best friend that suddenly wants to be popul
I really could not stand the narrator of this book. She went from weeping to happy and helping others, to angry - well, she was just a mess, but it all seemed so flat. Maybe it's just not my kind of book, but the character grated on me.

The saving grace of the book was the involvement in art. I really did like that aspect, the way she could connect to her dead brother through his artwork and her own. I don't like how everything settled so quickly towards the end. Her mom went from evil witch of
When I first started reading this, it was so eerily reminiscent of Twenty Boy Summer, which I had just finished, that I almost stopped reading it. But I'm glad I didn't.

While the two were similar, I liked A Map of the Known World better. I'd give this a 4.5 if I could.

Cora's brother Nate died one night in a car crash. Nate's best friend Damian was in the car as well, but he was able to walk away from the accident. Now Cora's family blames Damian for the crash.

When Cora finds out Damian is in her
My rating is more like a 2.5 but I rounded up because in the scheme of YA fiction, A Map of the Known World isn't one of the worst I've read. I'll keep this review pretty straight forward.

Things I like:

1. Cora speaks her mind and often tells her parents how she feels. Some people might think this makes her a brat but I found it SO refreshing. Nothing is more frustrating than a character who keeps their resentments pent up, leaving the reader to stew.

2. The characters have flaws, especially Nate.
I've noticed that others have said that the front cover seems boring or that it's not really fitting to the story, but I think it fits it perfectly. The black background tells of tragedy and loss and mystery, a broken family and a misunderstood boy. The heart promises light in the darkness,and the forbidden love of two lost teenagers. The pieces of art that make up the heart brings the hope of repairing the damage of a once broken home, or a previously unknown artistic bond between two siblings. ...more
I really enjoyed this book. It reminded me of The Sky is Everywhere (which is one of my favorites) because of the death of her brother. Only, this family was in a whole new situation and had different ways of dealing with the grief. The feel was darker and sadder which was interesting to read about. I loves the scenes in the barn about art, and the conversations about bravery.

I would have liked a bit more character development to see the sides of Damian and Cora's mom and dad more, but the
I loved loved loved loved this book so much! After I was done my English teacher even read it and liked it, so it targets anywhere from in my opinion 13+. This is a great book to read it has a bit of romance in it but without spoiling too much her sister dies which you already would have known if you read the back of the book. This is a great book for another reason because even if you don't like art or aren't a great artist you will love this book its not at all talking about monalisa or any ot ...more
Rachel Lee
I've cried many times reading this. A very heartwarming and touching story about loss, friendship and family.
This is the story of how Cora uses her artistic ability with mapmaking to help her cope with the death of her older brother. It's the new school year, and along with the normal stress of starting high school, Cora has to deal with kids and teachers who see her as the girl who's brother died. Through her art class Cora develops a relationship with Damian, her brother's friend who was in the car with him the night he crashed. The writing is eloquent and the story poignant. I highly recommend this ...more
Rather unfortunate that I should chose to read this novel right after Please Ignore Vera Dietz, which also features a death of a loved one and the aftermath. This provoked too much comparison/contrast between the two novels and left this one a bit wanting. I do enjoy when the arts have the power to heal. The romance was well developed, though I was a bit iffy about their age difference. Also, there were points in the book when I wondered why her parents didn't just call the main character on her ...more
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  • Undercover
  • After the Moment
  • You Are Not Here
  • Same Difference
  • Unfinished Business (Beggars and Choosers, #2)
  • The Anatomy of Wings
  • Breathing
  • Breaking Saint Jude
  • How It Ends
  • One Lonely Degree
  • Life, After
  • Heartbreak River
  • This Is What I Want to Tell You
  • Sharing Sam (Love Stories For Young Adults, #2)
  • Black Box
  • After the Wreck, I Picked Myself Up, Spread My Wings, and Flew Away
  • Far from You
  • Brutal
I was born and raised in Wilmington, Delaware, where I'm told that I was forever buried in books. I began scribbling my own short stories in a spiral bound notebook when I was six. Books and writing were--and still are--a haven for me, and I count myself so lucky that I have a chance to share my stories with others. I currently live and work in New York City where, when I'm not writing, I'm riding ...more
More about Lisa Ann Sandell...
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“As I say the words, I realize how true they are. And maybe that's the trick to getting through it, through life: realizing that everybody, including ourselves, is lugging around some kind of screwed-up baggage. Maybe we are put here to help each other carry the loads.” 63 likes
“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.” 61 likes
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