Where Things Come Back
By John Corey Whaley. Published by Atheneum Books, 2011
Characters at Play
- Cullen- The main character of the book who's point of view we hear from
- Lucas - Cullen's best friend. Personality is the opposite of Cullen, yet he is a dynamic character.
- Ada Taylor - the gorgeous girl of Cullen's dreams
- Gabriel- Cullen's brother who mysteriously dissapears.
- John Barling- man whos from oregon who claimes he has seen the Lazarus woodpecker
Cullen Whitter, our narrator, our POV
An unexpected Twist, Benton on a Mission
Plotting a Winner: The Elements that Make Up a Memorable Book
- Theme- Some things do come back in life
- Setting- Lily Arkansas
- Conflict- Cullen whitter lives in a town where things are known to just dissapear but that all changes when they see a lazarus woodpecker.
- Symbolism- The lazarus woodpecker. It shows that things do come back.
The later printed edition of the book (post winning the Michael L. Printz award) features a whimsical theme of an unidentifiable bird taking off into the sky, foretelling of the protagonist's journey and his soaring spirit.
The previously thought of extinct species of bird discovered by depressed bird watcher John Barling in Lily, Arkansas. The Lazarus Woodpecker serves as a symbol of hope and fun for a small town, later turned into a money-making mechanism through the sale of merchandise. On one side, a sign of town pride, on the other a desperate attempt to find meaning.
A fictional town in Arkansas, loosely based on the town the author grew up in. John Corey Whaley grew up in Springhill, Louisiana, a town with a population of less then six thousand people, mimicking the simpleness of Lily, AK. But simple can be beautiful and what may seem as dull on the surface, can contain many possibilities to adventure. No matter how small, large, or unidentified, secrets lie within each society.
My Take on the Book
While it is not a fast-paced read, where the beginning of the book is off to a slow introduction into this fictional world, lacking a true hook to the story from page one, the writing sets the pace for the reader to truly feel what it's like to live in the town of Lily. As a reader, you become an observer, and later almost a participant, being now invested in this setting and in the characters. After the first few chapters, once the reader becomes ingrained within the culture of small-town mentality, the writing picks up speed and the story gets very interesting, making you want to read more and more to find out what happens with Cullen and where the plot leads. The author cleverly gets the reader invested in the story.
I, also, personally enjoyed the vivid imagery. From the smells, tastes, and sounds of small town life to the added anguish of growing up in a society where it become so much harder to hide your personal thoughts and feelings. If in a few years, I will stumble across the book once again on my bookshelf, I look forward to reexamining the symbolism that was vague in the background upon my first reading.
Interactive Peer Participation
Is it more difficult to write after having a successful book?
Do you think it is easier to write fiction from personal experience or about a subject you don't know much about?
Would you want to be friends with Cullen in real life?