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Where Things Come Back
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Where Things Come Back

3.81  ·  Rating Details ·  16,793 Ratings  ·  2,709 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
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Hardcover, 228 pages
Published May 3rd 2011 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers
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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)
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Maggie Stiefvater
Jan 09, 2012 Maggie Stiefvater rated it it was amazing
Five Things About WHERE THINGS COME BACK

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
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karen

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
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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
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Jesse (JesseTheReader)
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
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Lyndsey
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
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Tatiana
Mar 31, 2011 Tatiana rated it liked it
Shelves: ya, 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
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j
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
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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
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Regan
Apr 04, 2014 Regan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing.
Martha
Feb 11, 2012 Martha rated it it was ok
Shelves: ya
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Snotchocheez
Oct 22, 2012 Snotchocheez 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
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Isamlq
Apr 20, 2011 Isamlq 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,
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Hassan
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
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Irmak
Oct 21, 2016 Irmak rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
O kadar uzun sürdü ki kitabı okumam. Bunda hem benim bu aralar kitap okuyamamamın etkisi var hem de kitabının dilinin ağır oluşunun. Çok zor okunan bir kitaptı Her Şey Burada Başladı ve Bitti. Ama ben bütün zorluğuna rağmen kitabı sevdim. Okuduğum en ilginç kitaplardan birisiydi sanırım.
Bana göre herkesin sevebileceği bir kitap değil. Zor okunmasından dolayı pes edebilirsiniz. Ama dediğim gibi bütün zorluğuna rağmen sevdiğim bir kitap oldu.
Umarım artık okuma hızım normale döner bende doya doya
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Regina
Nov 25, 2014 Regina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Liam
Sep 02, 2014 Liam 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
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Kwoomac
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
Angela
1.5
Veronika
Apr 16, 2015 Veronika rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2015
I can't finish this...
Nicole
Aug 03, 2013 Nicole rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-club
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
emma
Apr 28, 2015 emma rated it really liked it
read this book blind.
Donalyn
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
Great mystery element and unusual setting. Deserving of its honors.
Susan
May 11, 2013 Susan rated it did not like it
Shelves: book-club
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Thomas
Jul 29, 2012 Thomas 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
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Maxwell
Jan 19, 2014 Maxwell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Kate
Apr 07, 2011 Kate rated it liked it
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
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Larry Hoffer
Jul 25, 2012 Larry Hoffer rated it it was amazing
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
tim
Apr 14, 2011 tim rated it it was ok
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
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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.” 209 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.” 136 likes
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