Book Review: Where Things Come Back

Title/Author:  Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley

Genre:  Young Adult, Literary Fiction, Coming of Age

Published:  May 3rd, 2011 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers

Hardcover, 228 pages

How I Got This Book:  Checked it out from the library

Why I Picked It Up?:  It has been on my TBR for a while, but when a friend of mine bought it at YALLFest and proceeded to read the entire book on the car-ride home, I decided I probably needed to move it up.  So I checked it out and read it!

Book Jacket Blurb:  “When you read a novel expecting to be entertained with a lighthearted tale of adolescent love, you may come to the last page to realize you’ve read something quite different.

Will you be left still thinking about the inexplicable disappearance of a perfectly innocent little brother?

Will you be picturing what it would be like to finally get the girl of your dreams?

Will you be shocked by how the reappearance of an extinct woodpecker can change an entire town and the lives of the people in it?

Or will you just obsess over those zombies and talking birds?

Maybe when you read this story, you’ll find that even in a small Arkansas town where everything familiar can disappear, there is wonder in the ordinary and the hope for a second chance.”

My Review of This Work:

So this review was supposed to be the last review of 2012.  Oops.  I guess it can be the first review of 2013 instead!  And what a way to start out the new year!

I have an interesting story with this novel.  JCW is one of those YALLFest authors I was going to read BEFORE the event.  I even had this book in my house.  But my YALLFest to read pile was rather large, and I ended up returning this one to the library without reading it.  And then we venture to Charleston, where my travel buddy purchases this book for her classroom library.  She spent the entire car-ride back reading it, and when she finished it she threw it at Laura @ Owl Tell You and told her to read it so she could have someone to talk to about it!  That peaked my interest, so I went back to the library and checked it out and read it, too!

So here I am, having finished this rather short novel (only 228 pages), and I am at a loss for words.  How am I supposed to adequately describe and review this story to an audience that is probably unfamiliar with this work (it hasn’t gotten a lot of publicity that I have seen in the blogging world).  If you read the book blurb above, then you will know that this is a very interesting conglomeration of novel characteristics combined into one story.  We have tragedy, we have mystery, we have love, we have zombies, we have family, and we have a woodpecker.  And in such an elegant way, Mr. Whaley mixes them all together to create this award-winning story.

If I had to summarize this book for you in one sentence, it would be this:  This is the story of a boy who realizes that the world is a strange place.  This is a coming of age story of sorts, where Cullen Witter learns a lot about the joys and difficulties that life offers you.  But I found this story to also show the intricacies of life, how little decisions affect things (and how bigger decisions REALLY affect things).  Within these pages are the building blocks of every aspect of life, and it’s up to you to explore them all.

To me, Where Things Come Back is a novel that simply must be experienced.  This was a quick read, but it is not an easy read.  There is a lot to think about while reading this book, and then when you finish you find yourself thinking some more!  Thinking about what, you ask?  I believe that each person who picks up this book will get something very personal out of it, and it will probably be something different than that person over there who read it.  John Corey Whaley has written this beautiful story with so many angles that I truly believe that reading this book becomes a very personal and unique journey for each individual.  There is something inherently magical about literature in general, but Where Things Come Back is just overflowing with it.

I am sorry I couldn’t be a little more specific and descriptive about this book.  I have literally been trying to write this review for a week; I have just had such a hard time trying to convey my thoughts in a coherent format.  This is what you get.

All I can tell you is that this book is definitely worth picking up.

My Bookshelf Rating:

A Top Shelf Book!

Honestly, I was blown away by this relatively simple story.  John Corey Whaley has taken the simple and transformed it into something quite extraordinary!  Two story lines collide into this beautiful piece of Young Adult Literature.  The characters are lovely and real, and there is something just so raw and personal about Where Things Come Back that it becomes one that sticks with you!

Love and Die Hard,
Jennifer

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