Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Map of the Known World (YA)

Sandell, Lisa Ann. 2009. A Map of the Known World. Scholastic. 273 pages.

Somewhere, things must be beautiful and vivid. Somewhere else, life has to be beautiful and vivid and rich. Not like this muted palette -- a pale blue bedroom, washed out sunny sky, dull green yellow brown of the fields. Here, I know every twist of every road, every blade of grass, every face in this town, and I am suffocating.

Meet Cora Bradley. An unhappy often frustrated teen grieving the death of her brother, Nate, and the loss of her parents. Since the death of her brother, her mother and father have each in their own way disconnected from the family. Cora feels alone. Like her mother and father don't care about her, that they don't see her. Only one thing is known, her art gives her life meaning. The time she spends drawing (and painting and whatever else) is her time to just be. It is through her art that she explores herself--her thoughts, her feelings, her hopes and dreams. Her art is her connection to her soul, if you will. Her art keeps her going.

What Cora didn't know--couldn't know--was that Nate, her brother, was also an artist. How does she discover this? Well, Cora starts to fall for Nate's best friend, Damian. They're in art class together, and though they are far apart in ages--one being a freshman, the other a senior--they find a connection that brings them together. Something more than just shared grief.

This YA novel has some traditional themes, recognizable ones. The theme of loss--anger, confusion, sadness--as our heroine, Cora, is grieving the loss of her older brother who died in a car accident. The theme of art saving the day--you know, where being artistic and creative unleashes all the good things in life and allows the character to thrive and come into her own. (Yes, you'll find the sympathetic art teacher that "gets" the heroine like no one else quite can.) The theme of a small-town girl dreaming of the day when she can get out, find freedom in the world, and be her own person. (Cora can't wait to get out! She wants to see the world, the whole world, she wants to travel, see and do it all.) And there is the theme of unraveling friendships as life-long friends grow apart as they want and need different things in life.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Ceri said...

This sounds like a beautiful story.

Suko said...

Interesting sounding book. I wish I read as quickly as you!