Thursday, April 5, 2012

Book Review: Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley

Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication date: May 2011
Pages: 240
Source: Library
For: Printz Project

Cullen Witter has a lot on his mind - it's almost senior year and he's about to get the girl of his dreams, when his life is shattered by tragedy - his younger brother disappears. He must spend this summer trying to understand this new and different life, especially with the mania his small town experiences over a possibly extinct bird's reappearance.

Things I Liked:
Ok, that was probably the worst summary I've ever done, but this book is hard to explain. I'll talk about this more below, but I had a hard time getting into the book.  What I did enjoy was when I hit a point (probably around halfway) when the seemingly completely random and disparate story lines started to come together.  I was impressed with how Whaley brought them together and how they eventually made sense, especially because I was doubting it would at that point.  I loved the deep and complicated ideas the book discusses and the realistically portrayed teenage boy struggling to understand why his brother disappeared.  I think this one has a lot of merit and is skillfully woven.  I can see what elements drew the Printz committee (and Morris committee) to choose this one.

Things I Didn't Like:
As I said, I really struggled for the first half of the book.  I thought the completely different viewpoints and stories were too confusing, too random to interest me.  I only really cared about Cullen's story, so when the others would suddenly appear, I wanted to put the book down.  Initially, I really disliked the book, but I think it grew on me.  I especially hated the third-person weird zombie dreams Cullen had - totally distracting and confusing!  I'm not seeing this one having wide appeal and definitely it won't draw in reluctant readers with its slow and erractic beginning, but it does have a quiet power hidden in its depths.  And just the right touch of humor to balance it.  I guess it just didn't speak to me personally.

No idea.  Maybe a little like The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

s-factor: !@# 
regularly throughout, one f-bomb

mrg-factor: X 
mostly off page things, but it's implied

v-factor: -> 
some zombie dream stuff and maybe a few other darker issues, nothing graphic

Overall rating: *** 

I'm really hit and miss with the Printz winners - doesn't it seem like they sometimes pick really odd books?
If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage


  1. I didn't like this book. Like you said, the other story lines didn't interest me, and the resolution of his missing brother and the mysterious woodpecker was very disappointing. The Scorpio Races should've won instead. :)

    1. I've got Scorpio Races in my TBR pile right now. I'm pretty sure I'll agree with you, though, cause this one just didn't do it for me.

  2. See! All these award winners are so weird! I have this one on the TBR list but now I'm not so sure. It sounds like one of the symbolistic, deep books that I'm too shallow to get.

    1. I'm pretty sure I didn't get any/all of the sybolic stuff. Gues I'm too shallow too :)


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