Where Things Come Back


Title: Where Things Come Back

Author: John Corey Whaley

Summary: Cullen Witter lives in a sleepy little Lily, Arkansas, where not much ever seems to happen until the summer after his junior year, when everything begins to tailspin. It begins when his cousin overdoses. Later, someone claims to have seen a legendary – and thought-to-be-extinct – woodpecker nearby, causing his whole town to go crazy trying to capitalize on the media frenzy surrounding the bird. Worst of all, his beloved brother Gabriel disappears. Cullen’s heartbreaking summer is contrasted with the story of a young man who returns from a failed mission in Africa, which in turn sets in motion a chain of events that will surprise you.

Cullen is an ordinary guy placed in an extraordinary situation. Not only is he dealing with the usual stresses of growing up – finding and keeping love, dealing with an annoying job and surviving his boring hometown – he has to keep it together as his family and friends deal with the sudden loss of Gabriel. This book, which won the Michael L. Printz award, is mesmerizing and beautiful. It is hard to describe just how very good it is. This is the kind of writing that sticks with you for a long, long time.

Who will like this book?: Mature fans of fiction that is realistic but not ordinary. Adventurous readers who like a touch of mystery. Fans of Sufjan Stevens (his song Chicago inspired the story and the title.)

If you like this, try this: Happyface by Stephen Emond. Chopsticks by Jessica Anthony. If you are intrigued by the woodpecker stuff, try The Race to Save the Lord God Bird by Phillip Hoose.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian