where things come back coverAuthor: John Corey Whaley

Number of Pages: 228

Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers

Release Date: May 3, 2011

“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.”

This was my second time reading this book, and it was every bit as amazing as it was the first time through. John Corey Whaley’s writing style reminds me a lot of the way John Green writes. It’s casual, yet strangely deep and thought-provoking at the same time- I absolutely love it. Where Things Come Back is his first and only novel as of yet, which is surprising and very disappointing. It’s surprising because it is extremely well-written and the plot is so incredibly detailed. It takes some serious talent to write a first novel as great as this one is. It’s also disappointed because, well, I want to read more of his writing! JOHN COREY WHALEY, IF YOU ARE OUT THERE, PLEASE WRITE MORE BOOKS! (Sorry, I just had to let that out.)

There are two things (beside the writing itself) that make this book spectacular: the characters and the plot. Let’s start with the characters. Each character has a unique past and story that is slowly unfolded as the book progresses. My favorite character was Gabriel Witter, Cullen’s younger brother. He’s quirky, thoughtful, and is just an overall interesting guy. On page 9, Cullen Witter describes his brother in the following way:

“He walked down the hallway at school with his head down not because he wanted to avoid being seen or dissuade social predators or anything, but simply because he didn’t see any reason to lift up his head.”

I just think that’s such an interesting way to look at things. How does John Corey Whaley come up with such amazing stuff?

Moving on. There are two major plot lines in this novel- Cullen’s plot line and that of Benton Sage/Cabot Searcy. There are many minor plot lines, such as those of Alma Ember and Lucas Cader, that are present in the story as well. One would think that with so many different stories that it would be confusing, but it really isn’t. And it’s so cool to watch as all the separate stories intertwine and come together at the end that you can’t help but smile. In some books there are disconnects between plots, but definitely not here. Also, I really liked the ending of this book. It was open for interpretation, yet it wasn’t so vague that it seemed abrupt or rushed.

Overall, this book is simply a really great one. It was absolutely worth a second read, and it may even be worth a third.

My Rating: :0) :0) :0) :0) :0) 5 out of 5 smileys.

Would I recommend it to a friend?: YES! If you have not read this book then you really need to!



P.S. I just found out that John Corey Whaley DOES have another book coming out! It’s called Noggin and will be released in 2014. YAY! :0)

5 Replies to “Book Review: WHERE THINGS COME BACK”

  1. Putting this on my TBR list! I really like the cover (it actually reminds me of John Green’s books…and then you mentioned John Green in the review 🙂 ) And I really liked the quote you used in the review too. Thanks for the recommendation 😀


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