Where Things Come Back has been on my radar since it was published because it received so much local attention. The author, John Corey Whaley, is from Springhill, a tiny town an hour or so from Shreveport. I’ve been there several times, mostly because my childhood best friend’s mother grew up there, and I was always with my best friend.
I don’t usually review local books (or read them) because most of them are a new kind of terrible. Seriously, y’all, some of this stuff might make your head implode. On example will suffice: Charlaine Harris. (Okay, I’m kidding. Everything she writes is terrible, but lots of people like her. I’m really talking about the mostly self-published crap that flies around this town.) I should note that some of it is good. Chris Jay wrote a fabulous collection of short stories, and William O. Cook wrote a great memoir called Honeysuckle, Creosote, and Trainsmoke. That said, I’m not well-versed in local writing simply because I’ve come to assume that I’ll hate it. That’s not a good attitude, but I don’t like wasting my time on bad writing, and I’ve read lots of it from around here. I won’t give names.
Anyway, back to Where Things Come Back. It’s an exception to the rule around here. It’s actually a pretty good book – I enjoyed reading it, and I think I gave it three stars on Goodreads, mainly because I think the end is kind of dumb. Don’t worry, I won’t spoil it.
Where Things Come Back is about a 17-year-old kid named Cullen Witter, whose brother, Gabriel, disappears, and how Cullen copes with that disappearance and gets through life as a teenager. It’s also about the search for the Lazarus Woodpecker (referring to the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker?), which is thought to be extinct. (Aside: When I was in fourth and fifth grade, I had a teacher who seemed a bit obsessed with this bird. She showed us John James Audubon’s painting. I still think about it sometimes.) And that’s it for my summary.
This novel is definitely worth a read. It’s a YA book, but there’s no reason an adult wouldn’t enjoy it, too. An added perk is that it’s a local (for me, anyway) book from northwest Louisiana that isn’t embarrassing. Don’t get me wrong: it’s not great literature, but it’s an enjoyable read and totally worth your time.