John Corey Whaley's debut novel, Where Things Come Back, is a story about a bird thought to be extinct being spotted in Cullen Whitter's hometown of Lily, Arkansas. At least that is what I first thought when I heard about this book. However, it is also about so much more. Cullen Whitter is just seventeen when he learns many lessons over one summer. Not only does a reknowned bird watcher show up in his hometown bringing along media and press also suffering from woodpecker mania, but Cullen's fifteen year old brother disappears without a trace. In addition to dealing with the stress at home, Cullen is also trying to understand girls and dating.
Whaley's novel is well written, and with several turns I didn't see coming. Somehow by book's end he manages to wrap up all story lines in a satisfying way, tying everything together. While parts of this book are humorous, there is also a bit of sadness to Cullen's story as he navigates some rough times in his life.
Where Things Come Back is most geared to readers in high school, but should also appeal to adult readers.