Where Things Come Back

John Corey Whaley

Two Different Worlds

Cullen Witter is a 17 year old boy that lives in Lily, Arkansas along with his 15 year old brother, Gabriel and parents. When Gabriel goes missing one summer day, their family is left in pieces, trying to find answers about Gabriel's disappearance.

Benton Sage, 18, goes on a spiritual journey to Ethiopia to prove to his parents that he has "truly exerted his faith". After he gives up and requests to come home, Benton's family shuns him because of his failure to spread his knowledge of his faith. Even while away from his family at college, Benton couldn't live with himself knowing he had disappointed his family and he commits suicide. Benton's roommate, Cabot Searcy, finds his journal which leads him to The Book of Enoch, and the beginning of a quest that will consume him.

When these two stories collide, it creates a surprising ending that further proves the idea of hope.

Cullen Witter

Cullen Witter is this novel's main character and protagonist. As in-athletic and insecure teenager Cullen already has to face his day to day problems by not being the "jock" of the school. The loss of his brother, Gabriel, only further pushes him into depression. "Not only had my brother disappeared, but - and bear with me here - a part of my very being has gone with him" While this is all going on, the town of Lily is whole-heartedly consumed in a extinct bird that is rumored to be living on the banks of the White River, which runs through Lily, The Lazarus woodpecker. Cullen is even more frustrated with the fact that his town is more concerned with this woodpecker instead of finding his brother. In this point of the book the author, John Corey Whaley, unleashes the extremely emotional side of Cullen Witter as he tries to navigate through this tragic chain of events.

Cabot Searcy

Before Benton Sage ended his life and before Cabot Searcy went insane, Cabot was a typical college student that enjoyed to party and he became good friends with his roommate, Benton. After Benton committed suicide, Cabot was in charge of cleaning out Benton's belongings. In the midst of packing up the items Benton had left behind, Cabot comes upon his journal and suicide note. Cabot becomes wrapped up in trying to decipher Benton's suicide note and his curiosity evolves into a obsession. Cabot retrieves the Book of Enoch and "found himself turning to chapter 10 to read the quote that Benton had left behind. This was in the Book of Watchers, which would serve as the focus of Cabot Searcy's endeavor"


The use of characterization in this story significantly advances the plot because of the intense emotions and thoughts the characters go through throughout there storyline. With Gabriel's disappearance, Cullen becomes immensely depressed and shows his vulnerability when talking about his brother missing from his life. "To lose a sibling is to lose the one person with whom one shares a lifelong bond that is meant to continue on into the future" Reading this really showed me how alone Cullen felt, he also mentioned, "as a seventeen-year-old whose brother was most likely dead, I was acting like a complete jerk for a good reason." Cullen was expressing his feelings but he had didn't know how to talk and that led him to act out on people who were trying to be supportive, when all he really needed to do talk to someone.


The use of setting in this story significantly advances the plot. The small town of Lily, Arkansas isn't much to look at. According to Cullen and his best friend Lucas, " The most boring town in the world" John Corey Whaley used the uninteresting, small town of Lily to make the events that happen throughout the story have more of an effect on the reader. When Gabriel goes missing and the Lazurus Woodpecker is seen, this small town is more effected by these events compared to a big city.

Praise or Pan

I would praise "Where Things Come Back" by John Corey Whaley. This book is a great novel for anyone who likes books that you cant put down. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone my age that enjoys a really good book, that gets you thinking.