Where Things Come Back by John Correy Whaley


¡Hola! Everybody. Here comes another review… 🙂

Thanks to Simon and Schuster for sending me this one, I really enjoyed it.


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.


So alongside Cullen’s storyline there’s another about a young missionary in Africa. I was really surprised at how well this storyline was written and then interwoven with Cullen’s life, especially since you’d never see it coming together the way it did.

There were some things about the narration that I didn’t like. During Cullen’s narrative he goes into a trip of thought and often makes up scenarios in his head, so it switches between first and third person which confused me because you don’t know if it’s actually happening and you have to reread it to understand what’s going on. Also it started of very slowly and it took a while for me to get invested in what was happening because not much seemed to be happening.

This was not like anything I’d read before in this genre of contemporary because the theme of the story really is the bird. But its a lot more fierce and powerful than that because it has so many different meanings, you could take it so many ways. The story creeps up on you and then jumps on you because you’d never expect these storylines to meet the way I did. I was having a heart attack over what was happening, trying not to squeal and shout because my poor little brother was asleep. By the end of it my heart was racing and broken and I felt sad.

Cullen was quite a powerful character, he was very emotional and dramatic yet you could sense the fear and pain in his narrative. You could see how much he cared for his brother, even deluding himself into thinking he had crawled out of the ground at one point. He always wanted to help everyone even though he wasn’t nice sometimes, especially to his best friend. Yet through it all you feel like he’s a really strong character.

My favourite quotes:

“Life, he says, doesn’t have to be so bad all the time. We don’t have to be anxious about everything. We can just be. We can get up, anticipate that the day will probably have a few good moments and a few bad ones, and then just deal with it. Take it all in and deal as best we can.”

“Your mind has a way of not letting you forget things you wish you could. Especially with people. Like, you’ll always try your best to forget things that people say to you or about you, but you always remember. And you’ll try to forget things you’ve seen that no one should see, but you just can’t do it. And when you try to forget someone’s face, you can’t get it out of your head.”

Overall I yabsolutley loved this book and recommend that you read if you already haven’t. I give this book 4¾/5 stars. ⭐⭐⭐⭐¾/⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐


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