John Corey Whaley | Where Things Come Back

by - February 04, 2015

By John Corey Whaley

Just when seventeen-year-old Cullen Witter thinks he understands everything about his small and painfully dull Arkansas town, it all disappears. In the summer before Cullen's senior year, a nominally-depressed birdwatcher named John Barling thinks he spots a species of woodpecker thought to be extinct since the 1940s in Lily, Arkansas. His rediscovery of the so-called Lazarus Woodpecker sparks a flurry of press and woodpecker-mania. Soon all the kids are getting woodpecker haircuts and everyone's eating "Lazarus burgers." But as absurd as the town's carnival atmosphere has become, nothing is more startling than the realization that Cullen’s sensitive, gifted fifteen-year-old brother Gabriel has suddenly and inexplicably disappeared. 

While Cullen navigates his way through a summer of finding and losing love, holding his fragile family together, and muddling his way into adulthood, a young missionary in Africa, who has lost his faith, is searching for any semblance of meaning wherever he can find it. As distant as the two stories seem at the start, they are thoughtfully woven ever closer together and through masterful plotting, brought face to face in a surprising and harrowing climax. 

First Few Lines:
I was seventeen years old when I saw y first dead body. It wasn't my cousin Oslo's. It was a woman who looked to have been around fifty or at least in her late forties. she didn't have any visible bullet holes or scratches, cuts, or bruises, so I assumed that she had just died of some disease or something.

Thoughts About the Book:
This was an interesting read with a tinged with melancholy and regret, comedy and absurdity that finds wonder in the ordinary things and emerges as ultimately hopeful. I like how simple the plot was, and that the twist was not written to obviously that kept me up my toes. It reminded that hope is something that any loved would hold on to no matter how desperate the situation becomes. It's about a lot more than what Cullen calls, “that damn bird.” It’s about the dream of second chances.

Book Details:
Original Title: Where Things Come Back
ISBN 1442413336 (ISBN13: 9781442413337)
Book Pages:228

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