Saturday, April 30, 2011

Where Things Come Back: By John 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.


You know you’re reading a fantastic book when you read the last paragraph and immediately turn back to the beginning to start it over again.

Where Things Come Back is just such a book. Personally I don’t know just what it was that made this as irresistible read as it was. I don’t know if I should praise the realistically flawed yet endearing characters. The fascinating mystery/introspective nature of the story. Or just the general captivating nature of the writing itself.

What I can say is that Where Things Come Back is a must read book for everyone, both teens and adults. And that if you had to only read one book this month (I say month because there are some other fantastic books that came out this year and I’d hate to limit you), then it should be Where Things Come Back.

9 out of 10


Publisher: Atheneum

Published: May 3, 2011

Price: $16.99


  1. Can I quote you on that? haha (really-what's your real name, I'd love to add a quote from this review to my website!).


    Corey Whaley

  2. Sure, thanks for writing the book, I really liked it.


    Sam Baskin