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Where Things Come Back

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  20,040 ratings  ·  3,115 reviews
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-calle
Hardcover, 228 pages
Published May 3rd 2011 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers
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Storm E. Rayne I think it would diffidently be a wonderful twist if Cullen just thought that Gabriel came home. I also think that Waley let Gabriel come home, safe a…moreI think it would diffidently be a wonderful twist if Cullen just thought that Gabriel came home. I also think that Waley let Gabriel come home, safe and unharmed.(less)
EmmaB I agree- it was slow to start, but there's a lot in there about surviving grief, and friendship and family and searching for the meaning of life. The …moreI agree- it was slow to start, but there's a lot in there about surviving grief, and friendship and family and searching for the meaning of life. The main character may have found that.
It's definitely a book about young men - there are interesting strong female characters, but they're at the periphery: girlfriend and aunt and mothers- still, I've reread the ending three times now, and probably will try to run through the beginning again before I return it.(less)

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Average rating 3.80  · 
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 ·  20,040 ratings  ·  3,115 reviews

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Maggie Stiefvater
Jan 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing

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, n
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)
I CAN'T EVEN. This book was too good. ...more
Aj the Ravenous Reader

This is one of those stories that heavily relies on the theme that every element, character and symbol was manipulated to evoke said theme and in my observations, that’s usually a good thing. It’s what brings books to literary nominations and stuff. In my own personal opinion though, sometimes it’s also these same literary elements that interfere with the “feels”, with the reader’s enjoyment of a book and with being able to relate with the characters because often in life, things don’t always ha
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
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
Mar 31, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: ya, morris, printz, 2011
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
Moi  Baltazar
"When someone is sad and hopeless, the last thing they need to feel is that they are the only ones in the world with that feeling. So, if you feel sorry for someone, don’t pretend to be happy. Don’t pretend to care only about their problems. People aren’t stupid. Not all of us, anyway. If someone’s little brother disappears, don’t give him a free hamburger to make him feel better—it doesn’t work."

Alex ✰ Comets and Comments ✰
I have read this book three times, once in 2015. Then again in 2016. Then once more in 2017.

All three times this book has never failed to leave me breathless.

It still haunts me and every bone in my body.
Feb 11, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: ya
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
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
Apr 20, 2011 rated it liked it
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,
jv poore
Jan 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I read this book based on a Goodreads Review posted by @maggiestiefvater. Writing a review of something that Maggie has already reviewed would be like me offering a vending machine honeybun after someone has had a November Cake. For a review, see hers:

I can tell you that this book is haunting. I sat down to read the first chapter, and before I knew it, I was more than half-way through the book, and I was running very, very late. Without a doubt, I would
Adam Silvera
I'm gonna be a good Adam and come back to review this over the weekend 'cause seriously, I was WOW'ed. This book is now on my favorites shelf. Why I put the book off this long was beyond me. I highlighted the hell out of this book to the point where my highlighter was drying out.

For those who know me, you know I'm rather inhuman. I rarely cry in real life and have never cried over a book. I came close with a devastating scene in "Mockingjay", a super devastating scene in "Okay for Now", and the
Sep 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Aug 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
This has been on my to-read shelf for a long, long time. Having met the author and heard all the hoopla, I was eager to find out what it was all about.
It's sometimes the case that award winners may not be all that appealing to actual teenagers. That might be the case with this book. It was very cerebral, stream of consciousness, with what seemed like totally unconnected plot lines and characters coming out of nowhere for unknown reasons.
It was the voice and the unique characters that kept me t
Apr 16, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2015
I can't finish this... ...more
read this book blind.
May 11, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: book-club
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-club
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 29, 2012 rated it liked it
"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
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
Jul 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Nope. I can't! I can't give this book justice by writing a review. I'm sure you can find proper ones. All I have to say is, this book is breathtaking. I love it. SO MUCH! And you all should read it! ALL OF YOU ...more
Mar 17, 2020 rated it liked it
I thought I didn’t care about this book but now I’m done and all I can do is cry
Hailey (Hailey in Bookland)

Weird. That's all I have to say.
DNF on page 31. I’m not overly interested or connected to what I’ve read. I don’t love first person narration and this feels like it’s trying a little too hard to be a 2011-2013 era John Green book.
Jan 19, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, ya
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
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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

Articles featuring this book

Each November, aspiring novelists join the nonprofit organization National Novel Writing Month to kickstart their dreams of finishing a...
54 likes · 9 comments
“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.” 233 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.” 141 likes
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