Thursday, January 10, 2013

Review: Where Things Come Back


Where Things Come BackAuthor: John Corey Whaley
Published: July 24th 2012
Publisher: Atheneum BfYR
Paperback, 256 pages
Buy: The Book Depository




If there's one thing I've learned in the two and a half years since I joined GoodReads, it’s this: when Maggie Stiefvater recommends a book, I read it. Period. She had nothing but praise for John Corey Whaley’s award-winning debut so I ordered it with no questions asked. I just did it because Maggie said so.

Where Things Come Back is such an unassuming little book. It’s like that small, quiet kid in class other kids never even notice, but if they did, they’d see that he is well-read and fiercely intelligent and has a bright future ahead of him.


In Lily, Arkansas, Cullen Witter is living his average life with his average parents and his not-so-average younger brother. He works at a grocery store, doesn’t really understand girls and is generally pretty socially awkward. Then one day Cullen’s brother Gabriel disappears without a trace and his whole life gets turned upside down. To add insult to injury, the people in Lily are more obsessed with a supposedly extinct woodpecker than with a missing sixteen-year-old.

On the other side of the world, Benton Sage is having doubts about the nature of his mission in Africa. He feels that handing out food and a prayer isn’t enough to save people. He wants to do God’s work, and passing out food, water and Christ as quickly and efficiently as possible seems far too simple and not nearly enough.

The two stories come together in a very unexpected way that is sure to take your breath away.

Whaley has an amazing talent for telling extremely dramatic stories in a decidedly non-dramatic way. Throughout the book, Cullen seems oddly detached, almost unfeeling, but even when you catch glimpses of his emotions, they’re not outbursts but rather quiet confessions from a character who would much rather remain unnoticed. This character, and most Whaley’s characters, really, are amazing in their simplicity and all of them are unique, from desperate mothers to religious fanatics.


What you need to know about me is that I don't like to hug people with whom I'm not romantically involved. I also don't really like to shake people's hands, sit close enough to touch someone, or feel other people's breath on my skin. If you're the type of person who likes to do any of those things, then I won't pretend to understand you.


Although it won both the William C. Morris Award and the Michael L. Printz Award, Where Things Come Back is not for everyone. It has the feel of a classic and I’m certain it’s on its way to become one, but like all classics, it requires a certain amount of patience and trust in its author. If you have that, this beautiful little literary gem will undoubtedly find its place among your favorites.


22 comments:

  1. You might go after Maggie's recommendations but I go after reviews. This is the first time I've heard of this book and I want ti badly now. It sounds so good :) I will add it to my to-read list and hopefully I'll get to read it soon :) Great review :)

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  2. I have to admit that I never heard of this one until it won the Morris and Printz award. Even when I looked it up, I wasn't impressed with the description but the more reviews I read about it the more I'm intrigued. It's in my mountain high tbr and I look forward to reading it. Glad you enjoyed it!

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  3. I've never heard of this book but it sounds really interesting! I'll have to put this on my tbr list. Great review :)
    World of Books

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  4. Well, if Maggie says so then I suppose I need to check this one out too. Great review, this one sounds fantastic. :)

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  5. If Maggie recommends, it's a rule you must read it! I'm really curious about this one. I wonder if the mystery of Cullen's brother is solved. Wonderful review Maja. :)

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  6. Well, if Maggie says read it then we should right? I have plenty of patience for the classics as I have read so many so I understand what you are saying regarding this one. I am going to add it to my list and check it out when I get a chance. Thanks for sharing this little, unassuming book with me!

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  7. I haven't heard much about this one, but I am glad that you enjoyed.
    Happy reading,
    Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog

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  8. I haven't actually heard of this one, but I totally understand why you picked it up. Maggie is well read. I think that the characters really sound interesting and now I am curious. Sometimes you need a good character driven book. Will have to check this one out! Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

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  9. I've had this book for so long, and have been putting it off because so many people have said it was a good read, just not enjoyable. Your review really makes me want to pick it up! I usually have plenty of patience for a book to grab me, especially when it comes highly recommended by one of my favorite authors, so I'm sure I'm going to love it too. Thanks for your thoughtful review!

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  10. I haven't heard of this one before and not sure if its one I'll pick up but you certainly sound like it pushed all your buttons. Great review Maja and I love the quote you chose.

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  11. Oh I've had my eye on this for sometime now and I can totally see from your review why so many people love it so much. It sounds so much different to what I would normally pick up, but I think that's whats drawing me to the book even more! Gorgeous review hun! :)

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  12. Look at all those pretty awards -- plus a rec from Maggie? Yes, please. Hum... it's got to be in our school library. I think I'll check it out!

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  13. Incredible review, Maja! First off, I have to say that I am beyond curious to see how these two plot lines come together! I generally don't read all the award-winning novels (although I've unknowingly read so many this past year), but this really looks too good to pass up. I'm so curious to meet these characters and that quote you showcased? THAT IS ME. Well, with the exception of one or two friends and my mom and younger brother, I hateeee hugs or physical affection of any kind. Now I just have to meet this character who is like me! ;)

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  14. I got a copy of this one when it first came out in hardcover and I still haven't read it. It sounds like a fabulous book though and your review has me convinced that I will like it. I will have to pick it up soon. Great review!

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  15. This was one of those books I felt like I SHOULD love. A lot of my friends were raving about it and wouldn't leave me alone so I read it. And I guess I just didn't 'get it'. The book didn't click for me. I kept getting mad at myself, but really, I guess some books are just like that. And I was sure I was the only person in the entire world who didn't love it, but then I gave my copy as a gift to a friend who wanted it and she didn't like it either. I'm so glad you were one who did 'get it' and connected with it though. It makes me sad that I'm missing out, but what can I do? We love some, and we love some not so much...

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  16. You know, I've heard nothing but good things about this one and I'm very eager to get my hands on it. I'm a little scared that, like Candace, I won't "get" it.

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  17. Lovely review. It sounds like a nice book, and I'm glad that you enjoyed it so much and it won a couple of awards! Always a great thing. I was never really interested in this one, though, because it does sound quite literary and those are often not my most favorite reads (And I'm an english lit major- gasp! LOL) I might have to check it out some day though. :)

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  18. "Where Things Come Back is such an unassuming little book. It’s like that small, quiet kid in class other kids never even notice, but if they did, they’d see that he is well-read and fiercely intelligent and has a bright future ahead of him."

    Wow Maja! I can't even tell you how much I adore that analogy, it gives me such a great feel for the book without any specifics:) I'm typically not one for reading classic lit (or books on their way to being classic), but after this review, I want to give this book a try:)

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  19. One of my friends (and co-workers) in the grad assistant office can't say enough positive things about this book, so it's been on my radar since then. Knowing that you liked it as well, REALLY makes me want to read it, Maja! :)

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  20. This is a great review that describes my love for this book perfectly! I think this book was really evocative and really made me think. It strangely reminded me of THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER, except a tad weirder and more religious. I never really knew how to describe Cullen as a character, but I still loved him nonetheless. I love your comparison of this book to that quiet student that can actually be bright if it's noticed. :) FLAWLESS review, Maja. <3

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  22. Where Things Come Back is a "rib-sticking" good book. Comparing it to a meal that leaves you satisfied and not having you hungry in another half-hour, was my first thought when I closed the book.

    Mariz
    Believe it, Property Lawyer San Antonio

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