Where Things Come Back (Hardcover)
|Author: John Corey Whaley|
|Just when 17-year-old Cullen Witter thinks he understands everything about his small and painfully dull Arkansas town, it all disappears. Tinged with melancholy and regret, comedy and absurdity, this novel finds wonder in the ordinary and emerges as ultimately hopeful.|
From the Publisher:
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 junior year, a nominally-depressed birdwatcher named John Barling thinks he spots the ivory-billed woodpecker--a species 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.
Complex but truly extraordinary, tinged with melancholy and regret, comedy and absurdity, this novel finds wonder in the ordinary and emerges as ultimately hopeful. It's about a lot more than what Cullen calls, “that damn bird.” It’s about the dream of second chances.
The seemingly unconnected events in the lives of 17-year-old Cullen Witter, a disgruntled native of the tiny town of Lily, Arkansas, and 18-year-old Benton Sage, a missionary in Ethiopia, cleverly converge in this complicated, funny young adult novel. Sick of small town life, Cullen longs to be writer, and the summer before his senior year gives him lots of material. When a birder discovers the Lazarus woodpecker, long thought to be extinct, in Lily, the town goes crazy, much to Cullen's disgust. At the same time, his younger brother, Gabriel, goes missing and no one seems to care. In alternating chapters, Benton's story about leaving Ethiopia for college in Atlanta, and his interest in a mythical religious text are mysteriously explored. Winner of the American Library Association's 2011 Michael L. Printz Award.