I declared a reading quest last year of reading a book by an author from each state. This selection is for Delaware and I chose a young adult book A MAP OF THE KNOWN WORLD by  Lisa Ann Sandell. I liked it so much, I read the first book the author wrote – written entirely in verse which is no small feat – THE WEIGHT OF THE SKY.


A MAP OF THE KNOWN WORLD is the story of Cora Bradley beginning high school dealing with the death of her older brother the year prior in a car crash. She feels as if everybody thinks of her as “girl whose brother died”. Her best friend Rachel supports her, but Rachel is becoming more interested in boys and popularity. Her father retreats to his study every night and her mom is crazy overprotective.

But, Cora has her art. She is placed in an advanced art class with a new teacher that never knew her brother Nate. It is in this class she connects with Damian, who was in the accident with her brother. Her parent blame him for the accident but Cora is drawn to him, partially because she wants to learn more about her brother.

Damian shows Cora a secret place where he and her brother were creating their own artwork. Cora starts believing in her artistic abilities and begins a series of artworks based on maps of places that meant something to her and her brother.

It is a sweet story and perfect for young girls. While the secondary characters are not totally fleshed out, you feel Cora’s despair. The portrayal of high school is a little dramatic, but confusion around first kisses feels real. She is trying to find her own way while carving out a little independence. This is the story of an ordinary girl with an artistic talent and vision. She worries about popularity, friendship and love – what any teenage girl does! The resolution at the end seems a little “tidy”, I saw it coming, but I didn’t see another way around it.

By the way, my sister in law was visiting and took this book to send to her grand-daughter who lives in Israel!

Here are some quotes from the book I thought I’d share:

“I wish I could say we all lived happily ever after. I can’t. But I can say we lived. .”

“Nate’s journey ended too early, and I thought I had to run away to some far-off land to start mine. But, for now, it seems to me that I have enough to explore right here. There’s a whole continent to discover in myself, and I know that it’s love – love for my parents, my friends, my brother, and my art – that will guide me. Love will be my map.”

THE WEIGHT OF THE SKY was the first book by author Lisa Ann Sandell. It tells the story of 16 year old Sarah who spends the summer working on an Israeli kibbutz. She is from a small American town and is the only Jewish girl in her class.  She considers herself a dork, but the trip to Israel is a transformational experience for her. Written entirely in verse. it was named one of the New York Public Library’s Books for the Teen Age.

I always like to include some facts about the state, so here goes some interesting facts about Delaware.

Delaware was the first state to ratify the federal Constitution, becoming the first state in the union.

It is the second smallest state with only 1,955 square miles.

Delaware if the lowest state, with the altitude about 60 feet above seawater.

There are only three counties in Delaware.

Delaware is the only state without a National Park.

There are more doctoral-level (PhD) scientists and engineers, as a percentage, than any other state.

It is the home of the first tractor made by John Deere.

The state legislature pasted the nation’s first Coastal Zone Act in 1971, barring companies that pollute.

Delaware is one of five states that have no sales tax.

If you have any ideas of what to read as I complete the quest, let me know. I have a fairly fluid partial list of states going forward.  Here is my tentative ideas (in no particular order).

Florida – I found most writers associated with Florida are not from there. I settled on a book by Padgett Powell, who teaches at the University of Florida. I also read a children’s book about Charlie Pierce, who grew up in the jungles of South Florida, arriving there in 1872.

Georgia – I’m reading a book of short stories by Mary Hood, that is on the Dekalb Library’s (where i live) list of books every Georgian should read. (A forward by Pat Conroy was the clencher).

Hawaii – The Descendants

Idaho – a book by Vardis Fisher

Iowa – Bill Bryson

Missouri – Mark Twain

North Carolina – Reynolds Price

South Carolina – Pat Conroy (even though he was born in Atlanta, he is so associated with South Carolina and has always been a favorite of mine, I might make an exception).

Michigan – Edna Ferber

Minnesota – F. Scott Fitzgerald

Louisianna – Walter Percy

I’ll take suggestions!





  1. Deborah Weber

    I remain very impressed by your reading challenge. And I’m wracking my brain trying to think of a particular mystery set in Lousiana that I can recommend. Alas it’s remaining elusive, so we’ll have to hope it pops in at one of those unexpected moments. I found it particularly amusing because it was set in the home town of a friend so I had actually visited some of the places mentioned. That’s always fun.

    I look forward to your next road reading trip!

  2. Nanette Levin

    Glad to see you back with more on your reading challenge, Vickie. Your descriptions sent me back to high school, if only for a little while (that’s not a bad thing ;-)). If you’re looking to stray off the beaten path with your author choices, you might consider contacting Brian Jud of APSS. Members of the organization are mostly self-published, but there are some interesting ones. I can get you contact information if you wish. Looking forward to your next installment.

  3. SKJAM!

    More Delaware trivia:

    Delaware also has very favorable laws regarding the incorporation of companies, so many U.S. companies are officially incorporated there even if their main business is elsewhere.

    In at least one version of the DC Universe, Metropolis is in Delaware.

  4. Amy Putkonen

    So how far have you gotten? Are the ones on that list the ones that you’ve already read or the ones you plan to read? It seems to me that you’ve been doing this for some time, but I imagine it will take you a while!

  5. vickiemartin Post author

    I am reading the states alphabetically and I’ve read through Georgia. I stopped because I got so behind in blogging about them as I’m my moms caretaker now. I’m going to get caught up in the next couple of weeks.

  6. vickiemartin Post author

    if you think of it – let me know! Louisiana is a treasure trove of literature!

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