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Where Things Come Back

3.81  ·  Rating Details  ·  16,105 Ratings  ·  2,582 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 May 3rd 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
Jesse (JesseTheReader)
Feb 05, 2015 Jesse (JesseTheReader) rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I CAN'T EVEN. This book was too good.
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
Apr 05, 2011 Tatiana rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya, printz, 2011, ala-ya-2012
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
Nov 16, 2014 Regan rated it it was amazing
Apr 25, 2012 Martha rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 25, 2016 Snotchocheez rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars

I took a risk on John Corey Whaley's debut (and Printz Award winner) Where Things Come Back, as I wasn't really wowed by his sophomore attempt, the cute but far-fetched cryogenics tale Noggin. I'm happy to report this was in many ways a much better read than Noggin; much more mature and grounded, a very engaging and believable story, not nearly as sappy. The only problem I had with it (which almost with each instance of its use became a deal-breaker, and made all the more glaring by
Apr 21, 2011 Isamlq rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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,
Nov 17, 2015 Hassan rated it did not like it
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
Feb 10, 2016 Regina rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned-books
[4.5] Sin duda superó mis expectativas y me dio tantas cosas en qué pensar. Es increíble cómo una historia tan simple puede involucrar temas tan complejos y desarrollar al mismo tiempo personajes llenos de simbolismo. Este libro logró eso y mucho más.
Dec 20, 2014 Liam rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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
Jubilation Lee
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
Jun 11, 2015 Veronika rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-2015
I can't finish this...
Sep 12, 2015 Angela rated it it was ok
Aug 04, 2013 Nicole rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Ellen Hopkins
Sep 06, 2012 Ellen Hopkins rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great mystery element and unusual setting. Deserving of its honors.
May 11, 2013 Sueij rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
"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 liked it  ·  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
Thanjinia Haque
Mar 10, 2014 Thanjinia Haque rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 19, 2014 Maxwell rated it really liked it
Shelves: i-own-it, ya, kindle, 2014
Let me start off by saying that I think I really wanted to like this book a whole lot more than I did. Don't get me wrong, I did really enjoy this. However, from what I heard about it and expected going into it, I think I wanted this to be a solid 5/5 wonderful, new favorite, etc. And while it was a unique, beautiful, thought-provoking story, I felt like it was just shy of that 100%.

So really I give this more of a 4.5/5. C'mon Goodreads, where is that half star?

This story stands alone from othe
Larry Hoffer
Jul 28, 2012 Larry Hoffer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The summer before his senior year of high school throws Cullen Witter for a number of loops—his cousin dies of an overdose, his small town in Arkansas becomes obsessed with the alleged reappearance of a woodpecker that had been extinct for more than 60 years, and his beloved brother, 15-year-old Gabriel, inexplicably disappears. Cullen is unsure how to handle this loss, and is only able to cope with the support of his best friend, Lucas, and channeling his rage into the media frenzy that has gri ...more
May 14, 2011 tim rated it it was ok  ·  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
Aug 04, 2016 Gi rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2016
Contemporary fiction books have this sort of effect on me. After I read one, I find myself staring at a blank wall while mulling over everything.

If I can remember clearly, I added this book on my TBR shelf last 2014. Quite a long time before I finally decided to read it. Because of the awards that the book has received, I felt optimistic about it. Everything was smooth from the start as introductions and descriptions went on. We have intelligent characters here so don't worry. Lily, a small tow
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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.” 208 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.” 132 likes
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