The Low Down: Cullen Witter is an introspective teen who sometimes likes to pretend he is a pessimist. It helps that he has grown up in the small Arkansas town of Lily where nothing happens much. Then an ornithologist whips Lily into a frenzy, claiming that he has seen a Lazarus Woodpecker in their midst, a bird that is supposed to have been long extinct. The townspeople cling to the hope that something worthwhile has happened in their town as people pour in to try to find the elusive bird. Then Cullen Witter’s brother, Gabriel, goes missing.
Meanwhile, Benton Sage, a college student in Georgia, tries to understand why he failed his father again when he quit his missionary post in Africa. Benton feels misled by God in his quest to help the world. His roommate, Cabot, is drawn to Benton’s study of the Book of Enoch, which talks of fallen angels and their half-human children and how God sent Gabriel killed them for knowing too much. Seeing this as his calling, Cabot becomes obsessed with his role in helping mankind.
Will anyone be able to prove that the Lazarus Woodpecker has, indeed, come back from the dead? After weeks of being gone, can Cullen’s family hold out hope that Gabriel will be found alive? Can things come back?
Best Thang ‘Bout It: This is such a deep, thoughtful book. Reminds me a little of the tone in The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Shine. Books that when you read the words, you feel the meaning, the impact behind those words, more than the words themselves. In life, there are no “throw-away” moments; everything shapes who you are and what you become. For the good and bad. Sometimes people hide how they’re really feeling to make others feel better. Sometimes, you do get what you wish for most.
I’m Cranky Because: I was a little confused when the secondary story kicked in, but that fell away quickly enough.
Should You?: Yes. Everyone needs to stop and really consider things now and again.
Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley was published on May 3, 2011 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers.
Genre: Young Adult Fiction Contemporary
Ages: 14 and up