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Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley
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Where Things Come Back (2011)

by John Corey Whaley

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514None19,622 (3.78)16
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» See also 16 mentions

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I was not as blown away as everyone else by this book, but I did appreciate it's literary merit. Loved the ending, which redeemed the whole thing for me though. ( )
  Tahleen | Feb 16, 2014 |
The things that pass for good literature these days...I read more references to various people being an "ass-hat" than I care to recall. Those aside, this wasn't awful and I found myself caring greatly about the characters in the story and the story itself, but then I got to the end and found myself thinking, "what just happened?" ( )
  daatwood | Nov 21, 2013 |
Ages 14+

Cullen Witter’s dreams of becoming a writer sustain him while growing up in tiny Lily, Arkansas. Interesting people in his life also make life bearable. His best friend Lucas is sadder than his smile suggests. His crush, Ada, is beautiful, smart, and dangerous. And his favorite person in the world is his brother Gabriel, who thinks the best of people.

Things get more lively in Lily when a bird watcher claims to have rediscovered the Lazarus Woodpecker, thought extinct since the 1940s. Just as rediscovery becomes the talk of the town, Gabriel goes missing without a trace. The Lily narrative is interwoven with that of Benton Sage, a young missionary absorbed by the mysterious book of Enoch and its talk of angels, human potential, and destiny.

Whaley’s characters show realistic flaws. However, the friendship demonstrated within the story is powerful. Cullen’s relationship with his brother is defined by mutual respect and admiration, making Gabriel’s disappearance all the more heartbreaking. Lucas has the courage to stand by Cullen and do anything he can to help during the terrible situation.

Cullen struggles with a devastating and ambiguous loss that makes him question his identity and understanding of his hometown. At turns funny, wistful and piercing, the book tears readers between hope of redemption, and awful doubt. Highly recommended. ( )
  Rachel.Seltz | Nov 16, 2013 |
I enjoyed the writing in this book. It rang pretty true to me as far as standard teenage behavior, attitude, dialog, internal musings. Maybe the main character was a tad too nice. Certainly the sibling relationship was pretty idealized. Even brothers who get along really well would be a little less enamored of each other I would think. Even just for appearances sake-at that age. But, if it's a fault, it's not so aggrevating. The tiny hint at magical realism (?) or mystery in the novel is kind of intriguing but then doesn't make any bold moves. It's a bit anti-climactic but it almost seems that was his intention. To be a subtle book. It hints rather than states. I'm glad it wasn't sinister. I'm glad there wasn't some horrific conclusion. I don't like books like that which is why I avoid the huge genre of crime and mystery novels. This was an enjoyable book and better written than a lot of YA novels. My ten-year old found it worth reading which initially gave me pause, but I decided it was probably ok. May be the first book he has bothered to pick up from my "book club" pile. I think because it had the word "damn" on the back cover. ( )
  ErikaHope | Sep 9, 2013 |
This Printz Award winner takes place in a small town in rural Arkansas during the summer before Cullen Winter's senior year. The story opens with Cullen driving his aunt to view his cousin's body in the morgue. He had died of a heroin overdose. His younger brother has vanished into thin air, a resident of Oregon arrives determined to find a survivor of an extinct species of woodpeckers, and a young man returns from a mission in Africa to the disgrace of his family. With all of this going on, Cullen tries to hold his family and himself together.

The points of view and places in time switch almost faster than one can turn a page. Much of the book is first person from Cullen's point of view but he also refers to himself in the third person which confuses things even more.

While I appreciated the writing and themes of this book, I will find it tricky to recommend to my high school student patrons. ( )
  mamzel | Sep 1, 2013 |
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For Anita Cooper, teacher and friend
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I was seventeen years old when I saw my first dead body.
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Seventeen-year-old Cullen's summer in Lily, Arkansas, is marked by his cousin's death by overdose, an alleged spotting of a woodpecker thought to be extinct, failed romances, and his younger brother's sudden disappearance.

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