Thursday, February 3, 2011

A MAP OF THE KNOWN WORLD by Lisa Ann Sandell

Cora's family is in pieces.  Less than a year ago her older brother Nate died in a senseless car accident.  Her mother has created a list of rules that has Cora feeling like she is in prison, and her father is simply stumbling to work every day only to return each evening to close himself in the den with a gin and tonic.

As Cora gets ready to start high school, she misses her brother but is resentful of the changes he has caused in her life.  Her best friend Rachel is excited to begin high school and encourages Cora to join in all the new activities.  It just doesn't feel right to let go and have fun without Nate so Cora's friendship with Rachel begins to deteriorate.

Being the only freshman in her advanced art class is the only thing that Cora looks forward to each day.  She loves art and the new teacher challenges her and even encourages her to submit a portfolio for a summer art course offered in London.  She is surprised when encouragement also comes from a most unexpected source - Damian, Nate's best friend and a passenger in the car accident that took his life. 

Damian's art talent has been hidden all the years he spent with Cora's brother, and when he invites her to see something special after school one afternoon, she can't believe what she sees.  The two troublemaking boys had evidently been working at a local farm in exchange for studio space in the barn.  The place is filled with Damian's paintings and Nate's sculptures created from found objects.  Cora is amazed and inspired as she discovers a side of her brother she never knew.

A MAP OF THE KNOWN WORLD is the emotional story a young girl struggling to understand a terrible tragedy as she finds her own place in the world.  Lisa Ann Sandell uses art as the center piece of a tale that ties together a family and helps begin the healing process for an entire community.

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