A Map of the Known World by Lisa Ann Sandell

I went into this book expecting a nice story about an artist who is into maps.  Because my fiance is a cartographer, I am drawn to anything that involves cartography.  As you can imagine, that’s not very often.  So when I heard that Lis Ann Sandell’s A Map Of The Known World had a plot that included cartography, I added it to my TBR pile.

This is a book that’s about a lot more than cartography.

I had no idea how intense it would be when I sat down on my couch and opened to the first page.

Cora’s brother Nate was a jerk. He wasn’t always a jerk; in fact, he used to be her best friend. But for the last four years, since he entered 8th grade, Nate was a jerk. He rebelled against their parents and was unusually cruel to the entire family.

But now Nate is dead. And on the night he crashed his car, he and Cora had a huge fight. Now she has to start school at the same high school Nate went to. She is struggling to survive with her parents, who have completely shut down. Her mother has become insanely overprotective, requiring that Cora be home by her 4pm curfew and never go anywhere without a parent. Dad has shut down completely, locking himself in his study, drinking gin and tonics and ignoring his wife and daughter.

The only bright spot in Cora’s life is her advanced art class in school. And the brightest spot in the class? Damian. Her brother’s best friend. The guy who was in the car with him the night he died. The guy her parents despise and blame for Nate’s death. And the guy that Cora is slowly by surely falling for.

I cried no less than three times while reading this book. The last time I cried was for the entirety of the final 50 pages. I’m talking tears-streaming-down-my-face crying. Sandell has crafted an exquisite and touching novel- it’s a love story, a coming of age story, and an artists’s story all in one. What a powerful combination! Highly, highly recommended.