A Map of the Known World Booktalk
When she saw what Nate had made, had created, Cora realized how little she’d known her brother, and how much of himself he’d hidden.
On the eighth of February, Cora’s brother Nate, a junior in high school, crashed his car into a tree, with his friend Damien. Damian was OK. But Nate didn’t make it. Since Nate died, Cora has spent the whole summer inside, away from questioning eyes, pitying eyes. But now it’s August, and school’s starting, and staying home is no longer an option.
Nate had always been getting into trouble, getting detentions, getting arrested for stealing and trashing and tagging, and in general being where he wasn’t supposed to be. He talked back to his teachers, forgot homework, flunked quizzes, broke speed limits, and violated his probation. And when he was home, he fought with his parents and snarled at his younger sister. If he were still alive, Cora might have been able to distance herself from him. But now she’s just the girl with the dead brother, Nate Bradley’s little sister, the girl no one talks to. She sleepwalks through her classes. Teachers treat her carefully, as if they don’t know what to say, or are watching her for signs of Nate’s craziness.
Finally, her last class. Advanced Art, the only class she’s been looking forward to. The teacher, Ms. Calico, is new, and hadn’t known Nate.
And then Damian walks in, looking like trouble in his black jeans, combat boots and black trench coat. Damian, the one who had walked away from the wreck. Damian, the one who had lived. Damian, the one who watched Cora in the halls, who spoke to her in art class, who offered her a ride home, who showed her his and Nate’s secret. Who showed Cora the part of Nate he had never shown to anyone except Damian, and helped her begin put the pieces of her life back together.
This booktalk was written by Joni Richards Bodart, library school professor, writer, consultant, and booktalker extraordinaire.