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Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley

Where Things Come Back (2011)

by John Corey Whaley

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8387010,749 (3.79)19

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I really liked this book. That's pretty much it. ( )
  s.pando | Nov 4, 2016 |
I really liked this book. That's pretty much it. ( )
  s.pando | Nov 4, 2016 |
The more I reflect on this, the less I like it. At this point, I opine that it's an incoherent mess masquerading as fancy-shmancy *L*iterature.

I don't need to go into the sexism; you can read this review instead: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1021266518?book_show_action=false&page=1

I tried. I read slowly and carefully... but I do not understand the town beyond the iconography, or any of the primary characters. Nor do I care about them. Sorry. ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 6, 2016 |
In 2012, “Where Things Come Back” was awarded both the Michael L. Printz and William C. Morris Awards.
The author tells two stories that seem so far removed from each other that reader is perplexed as to how they relate. When the author makes the connection the reader is left awed.
The book opens with the line, “I was seventeen years old when I saw my first dead body.” And so begins possibly the worst summer in the life of any teenager - - ever. Before things go from bad to worse, Cullen, bored with his small town, what little it seems to offer, and a future that doesn’t appear to hold much opportunity, thinks, “I knew that we were all just in the prelude to disappointment after disappointment”. This perfectly foreshadows all that is to come in the rest of the book.
Cullen’s brother goes missing. The police think the boy has most likely run away and don’t exert the effort that the family would like in their search. As serious as this is, there is quite a lot of dark humor (reminiscent of a Coen brothers movie). Meanwhile, the town is trying to prosper from the possibility that the Lazarus Woodpecker - - extinct for forty years has reappeared. All the attention given to this bird, who may or may not be real enrages Cullen. He feels it would have been better spent searching for his brother.
The second story line involves Georgia college students, Benton and Cabot. Benton has recently returned from a failed church mission trip in Africa. His work and his writing from that time spark something in his otherwise carefree roommate, Cabot. Cabot rapidly turns into a religious zealot, spending nearly all his time obsessively studying the Ethiopian Orthodox Bible. The genius of this book is how the author ties it all together for a very satisfying conclusion. ( )
  knitwit2 | May 3, 2016 |
Interesting debut novel which takes a while to get going. This is the story of Cullen who lives in a small town in Arkansas with his younger brother Gabriel and best friend Lucas. The book opens with a great first scene of Cullen having to identify his junkie cousin Oslo's dead body.
From there the book takes a weird turn, suddenly catapulting us to Ethiopia where another young man struggles to find himself as a missionary. So what is the connection? All will be eventually revealed and, I must admit I guessed what was going on.
Into the town comes a birdwatcher who claims to have seen a long extinct woodpecker called the Lazarus. Cue every business person in the town trying to cash in on it. Then, Cullen's brother Gabriel disappears and the book is devoted to Cullen's musings on whether or not his brother is dead.
For older readers due to mild swearing and Cullen sleeping with 2 different girls; there is also a lot of reference to religion which may put off some readers but is crucial to the plot. SPOILER ALERT: think Cullen's brother's name and that of a certain archangel and you will quickly work out what has happened. Thought provoking. ( )
  nicsreads | Mar 23, 2016 |
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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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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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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