Saturday, July 28, 2012

Book Review: "Where Things Come Back" by John Corey Whaley

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 gripped his hometown.

Meanwhile, Benton Sage travels to Ethiopia as a missionary, helping to bring Christianity to people in small towns. But he has a crisis of faith and conscience and returns home, only to be shunned by his family, so he enrolls at the University of Atlanta.

The intersection of these two seemingly separate stories are the backbone of John Corey Whaley's fantastic debut novel, Where Things Come Back. This is an emotionally gripping, humorous, and compelling book about hope, faith, friendship, and love, and it also explores a number of religious themes, including the angel Gabriel and the apocryphal Book of Enoch. As I read this book, I kept hoping that the plot wouldn't twist in certain directions, and Whaley's storytelling definitely kept me guessing. I absolutely want to know what happens to these characters next. Once again, I am blown away at the quality of books being written for the young adult audience, as there is nothing in this book that made it any different than an "adult" novel. I definitely look forward to see what Whaley comes up with next.

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