Cullen lives in a tiny town in Arkansas, where nothing ever happens and no one ever really leaves. But then, one summer, two distinct things DO happen, both of which change Cullen’s life in a significant way. One of these things is a loss so great that it shatters his family, and the other is a random woodpecker, thought to be extinct, that just shows up in his town one day. The world as he knows it explodes and then crumbles and his summer is spent sorting through the pieces and trying to figure out how to put himself and the life he had back together.
This book is surprisingly deep. It reads mostly like a story, but also like therapy — like an assignment a therapist gives you to sort through whatever traumatic event you haven’t processed yet. I liked both pieces of it, truthfully, and I also love stories where there are two completely different plots that find their way toward each other in the end. Where Things Come Back does that well. Cullen isn’t perfect — not a perfect son or brother or friend or boyfriend, but he cares. He cares deeply and I loved that about his character. While I didn’t love his defense mechanism of creating nightmare-like scenes out of the current action, I do think there are a lot of teens who could find a sympathetic character in Cullen, especially teens from a hurting family or who are sorting through their own loss.
Rated: Moderate for language. There are 30-plus uses of moderate language, one use of strong language and teenage sex (we aren’t watching when it happens). I’d say good for ages 15-plus.