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Where Things Come Back

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  14,410 ratings  ·  2,343 reviews
Winner of the 2012 Michael L. Printz and William C. Morris Awards, this poignant and hilarious story of loss and redemption "explores the process of grief, second chances, and even the meaning of life." Kirkus Reviews

In the remarkable, bizarre, and heart-wrenching summer before Cullen Witter's senior year of high school, everything he thinks he understands about his small
Paperback, 228 pages
Published May 2012 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers (first published January 1st 2011)
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Storm E. Rayne It's such a good book. The first fifty pages are boring, but just hang in there. If you're like me, you'll end up loving the book--and all of its…moreIt's such a good book. The first fifty pages are boring, but just hang in there. If you're like me, you'll end up loving the book--and all of its lovable and hate-able characters. Read it.(less)
Teddy Bear Books Pretty sure YA...nothing too heavy. Really good book, too, from what I can remember.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Maggie Stiefvater

1. So. This book takes place in Lily, Arkansas, but it could take place in Nowhere, Virginia, as well, a place I am well acquainted with. It takes place in a small town the same way that my life took place in a small town —not in a surface way, not in a Hollywood way, but in a way that touches every bit of your life. Not good or bad, really, just . . . grit and dust and gross gas stations and lots of church. I appreciate that it feels effortlessly real, no

what an unexpectedly delightful book.

i was given an ARC of this and i looked at it and said "gak - biiirrrddss!" and figured i would read it when i got around to it. after some awfully gentle prodding, i got around to it and i read the damn thing in one day, tearassing through it with great glee and awe.

this book is a sad and unpredictable gem.
but with plenty of moments of humor.

it opens with a death-by-overdose and a million instances of the word "ass-hat" - a word i had never heard before bein
Maja (The Nocturnal Library)
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
Oh, Cullen Witter, would one please stop talking about oneself in third person?

Where Things Come Back is told mostly from the first person perspective of the young man, Cullen Witter (well, except for when he often talks about himself in the third person) whose fifteen year old brother disappears. Cullen lives in a small town town that just happens to be obsessed with woodpeckers, specifically the long-presumed extinct Lazarus Woodpecker. Both the town and Cullen Witter develop a strong obsessio
Jesse (JesseTheReader)
I CAN'T EVEN. This book was too good.
2.5 stars.

Meh, this book wasn't really my cup of tea. I didn't care about any of the characters and the plot was a bit dull. I am glad I read it though - it was different from most of the other books I have been reading, at least I gave it a gooo :3
3.5 stars.

Where Things Come Back is a pretty good debut effort (and not so good choice of cover). A little hard to describe though.

17-year old Cullen Witter is passing his time in a tiny Arkansas town. There is nothing interesting or exciting going on. Cullen is simply waiting for his final high school year to be over and to move on to a life less dull. Everything changes when Cullen's younger brother Gabriel suddenly disappears. If Cullen thought his life was bad before, it becomes unbearable n
I won a book! I won a book on First Reads!

Where Things Come Back is a YA debut novel about a disgruntled teen in small town Arkansas (is there any other kind?). 17-year-old Cullen Witter would be an emo teen if Lily was big enough to support fringe subcultures. But he's got all the attributes: over-sensitive, journal-writing, picked on by jocks (every town has those), unlucky in love (until, of course, he becomes extremely lucky in love, a twist integral to the plot, but whatever).

The book take
Manuel de Acha
(Third time reading this book)

Books, in my opinion, try to describe or explain a certain story at its best and try to connect a reader with the story and the characters the best way the author can. Of course this story did that and a lot of other things that will surprise you.

Stories like this one makes me a better person and a better reader. The way John Corey Whaley narrates us the story is beautiful and very very original. The things I learn in this novel will stick with me for the rest of my
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I'll keep this short: I needed this. After a series of really shitty not so good reads over the past couple of days, Where Things Come Back reassures me that there are stories worth the effort of not sleeping.

My one complaint though is that it’s cover does not give what’s inside justice. That aside, I really enjoyed this book, the characters and how things came together.

On one hand there’s Cullen, and on the other there’s Benton: two people not connected at all, but through a series of events,
can't even begin to explain how much I love this book! I feel like this book has inspired me and really effected me in many different ways.

the story and the way it developed was truly brilliant, it had me hooked from literally the first chapter. I couldn't predict what was going to happen and the ending was just wow!

I don't think I've ever related to a character as much in my life as I did with the main character, Cullen. It's cringey but I really do feel like he's given me hope and made me feel
when you create two story lines to make them entwine at the end, in an attempt to make the readers mind blow, you probably have a very weak plot.

this is one of those contemporaries that i was really excited about because i heard a lot of good things about it, and i heard it's mysterious and weird, and it was short so i felt like this is gonna be a one-sitting book that'll grab me from the first page, but unfortunately from the very beginning of this book i knew it gonna suck, now the plot of thi
Two or three weeks ago I went on a brief vacation with Husband, which involved lots of scenic driving and also lots of me ignoring the scenic driving in favor of reading. Husband is always a fan of me reading on trips, since when I’m stuck in the car without a book I tend to stare creepily at him and/or loudly sing show tunes. As one does.

Anyway, I read Where Things Come Back during this period, and when I got the book out today to write my review, I remembered basically nothing about it.

“Oh yee
This book started out so great. I was seventeen when I saw my first dead body. For me, it just didn't sustain that initial pull. The format flipflops between two stories, culminating in their inevitable collision. I loved the chapters which focussed on Cullen Witter. He's a seventeen year old boy, dealing with more than his share of problems. (see above). His younger brother Gabriel disappears one day, leaving no clue behind. I was riveted by his story. We watch as his world slowly crumbles. He ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I can't finish this...
I appreciate some books, but I don't necessarily enjoy them. This is one of those times. Weaving together 2 seemingly disparate stories, Whaley explores small town life, family, hope, and second chances. More of a character study than a plot-driven novel. The constant switching between first person and third person kept me from falling into a reading flow and makes me question what really happened at the end. I look forward to reading more books from Whaley in the future; this is an excellent de ...more
"It was one of those moments when you're waiting on someone to say something important or funny or just do anything to break you away from the sad thoughts that overwhelm your mind. Thoughts like never having enough money to move away or not getting into college. Thoughts like having to come back to take care of a sick parent and getting stuck here all over again. That's what happened in Lily. People dreamed. People left. And they all came back."

Winner of the Printz Award for excellence in young
Jul 05, 2011 Kate rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Kate by: karen
A pretty good YA debut novel. Going into it, I didn't realize it was going to be a book about faith. I thought it was going to be a book about birds and loss, since the two factors that drive the story are Garbriel's (Cullen brother's) disappearance and a sighting of a woodpecker everyone thought was extinct.

However, there are missionary trips, loss of faith, and Cabot's faith crazed ideas that seem to doom him all the more, added into the mix. These are the factors that tie seemingly unrelated
Ellen Hopkins
Great mystery element and unusual setting. Deserving of its honors.
Thanjinia Haque
If you're looking for a mysterious book, this is the one.
There are two stories in this book and every other chapter hypes up one story. As you read, you realize there is no connection between the two stories, but when each chapter ends, it ends with a shocking ending that makes you indulged in the book, and you want to keep reading. The author uses a large conflict to tie the two stories together in the end. This book is mysterious cause you always ask why or how and none of your questions are
May 14, 2011 tim rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to tim by: karen
Not bad for my first first-reads win. Somehow I overlooked the YA designation when entering the contest. Regardless, I was mostly able to get over myself regarding the intended readership and enjoy this anyway. I do have some minor qualms with the book, but I don't feel like focusing on them because overall this is a fine story. I haven't read any other YA books to compare this with, but it stands up pretty well to, and reminded me at times of some very good adult fiction I've recently read and ...more
Alethea A
OH MY GOSH. I want to interview this man. Fantastic book.

I disagree about the cover. I just love Grady McFerrin's artwork. It's definitely not a mainstream choice for YA. More like R.A. Nelson, Natalie Standiford, or Beth Ann Bauman. His other YA book cover is the little-known The Book of the Maidservant. The cover also reminds me of Still Life with Woodpecker by Tom Robbins

Full review forthcoming.
Interesting to read at the same time as Okay for Now - boys and birds, who knew they went so well together?

Every part of this book rings true; adolescent diaglouge, variety of believable family relationships; the struggle of a teen boy to deal with vitally emotional issues instead of turning typical teen drama into high drama. The point at which the readers realizes ,i events and characters collided only intensifies the desire to know the outcome. The author's use of language, however, keeps it
I can't even decide if I like this book or not to be honest. I think I do, and then I'm confused, what am I even reading? I enjoy when books make me think and question things but I also greatly dislike not knowing what really happened. You see the problem here?!

"When I asked him the meaning of life, Dr Webb got very quiet and then told me that life has no one meaning, it only has whatever meaning each of us put on our own life." <- Truth. :)

(Why doesn't any of my friends read the books I do?
Whaley is deft when it comes to developing character and plot while packing such a small volume with theme and symbolism. Two seemingly un-related storylines intersect in the most satisfying way, and I reread many passages throughout the novel immediately upon finishing. Where Things Come Back is about family and expectations and the search for meaning. It's about second chances. It's about finding our way, or sometimes, finding our way back.
Kelly (Diva Booknerd)
4 Stars.
Deep. Emotional. Poignant.
Where Things Come Back was incredibly complex, poignant and an engaging story that I simply couldn't put down. It follows two separate storylines, Benton who is a young Missionary in a foreign country, always striving for his father's acceptance and Cullen, who lives in a sleepy country town, where his brother has disappeared. They're worlds apart, but through fate, both Cullen and Benton's stories combine to one bitterswe
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JOHN ‘COREY’ WHALEY grew up in the small town of Springhill, Louisiana, where he learned to be sarcastic and to tell stories. He has a B.A. in English from Louisiana Tech University, as well as an M.A in Secondary English Education. He started writing stories about aliens and underwater civilizations when he was around ten or eleven, but now writes realistic YA fiction (which sometimes includes zo ...more
More about John Corey Whaley...

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“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.” 182 likes
“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.” 120 likes
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