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Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley

Where Things Come Back (original 2011; edition 2011)

by John Corey Whaley

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7817011,802 (3.76)17
Title:Where Things Come Back
Authors:John Corey Whaley
Info:Atheneum Books for Young Readers (2011), Hardcover, 240 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Cullen, Gabriel, Benton, Lazarus woodpecker, Lucas, Cabot

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Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley (2011)


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Showing 1-5 of 70 (next | show all)
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 |
Simply put, this book is boring. Jasper Jones had a unique story that I think will pull teens in, this book does not. It drags, and drags, and drags. The content is also quite appalling. That's not necessarily a deal breaker for me, but in this case it just seemed so senseless. I won't be recommending this one. ( )
  EmilyRokicki | Feb 26, 2016 |
17 yr old Cullen Witter is having a painful summer. His dull, boring life in Lily, Arkansas has been upended by a series of events: the death of his cousin, the alleged sighting of an extinct woodpecker species that's catapulted the town into the national spotlight and the sudden, unexplained disappearance of his beloved brother, Gabriel. Benton Sage has just arrived in Ethiopia for missionary work. He is confused, lonely and unhappy. He eventually asks to return home to Georgia where he enrolls in college. These parallel stories alternate between Cullen's first person narrative and the third person telling of Benton's story, an oddly compelling mix that keeps the reader wondering how these stories can possibly be linked--and when they finally intersect, it is original, unnerving and unexpected. This melancholy slice of small town life is livened by well-drawn characters, quirky comic moments and symbolism that fairly smacks you in the face. A great pick for book club or to recommend to high school teachers. There is implied sex (no graphic descriptions), but it's a minor plot point. What I found surprising were two Amazon readers' complaints about the swearing, which felt in line with the characters and didn't faze me at all. Neither reviewer who was freaked by the language said anything about the premarital sex, so go figure.... I highly recommend this book, although the cover may make it a bit of a hard sell (too whimsical? old fashioned? not really about the bird?). Potential teen readers would probably be your brainy, realistic fiction lovers. Recommend to fans of Melina Marchetta's Jellicoe Road, Peter Cameron's Someday This Pain Will be Useful to You or Holly Goldberg Sloan's I'll Be There. A nice addition for teen music lovers would be to recommend the author's playlist noted on Amazon's page for this book. ( )
  lillibrary | Jan 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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