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.
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 understand what happened. Cora's parents choose to place blame on Damian, their son Nate's friend that was in the car with him. Surprisingly, to both Cora and Damian they find a connection through this shared tragedy and begin spending time together. Their connection also happens to include a love for the arts, I LOVED how much art played into this story. The summer before the current school year, Cora had escaped through her drawn maps of foreign countries, daydreaming about what it would be like to be there. It was beautiful and I wish I got the opportunity to read about artistic people like the ones in this story more often!
While I really enjoyed this book, for some reason the ending wasn't really surprising. Not that I really wanted to be surprised or that I didn't want it to end the way it did. I'm not sure, something was missing. I could have used a little more. But overall I really liked this book! A great perspective on a hard topic.
A Map of the Known World is released on April 15th.
ARC received from publisher