Where Things Come Back Summary & Study Guide

John Corey Whaley
This Study Guide consists of approximately 47 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Where Things Come Back.
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Where Things Come Back Summary & Study Guide Description

Where Things Come Back Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion on Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley.

Lily, Arkansas is a small town where things come back. John Corey Whaley describes small town living with all of its idiosyncrasies from the perspective of a young man named Cullen Witter, Cullen and his family live in Lily and have been there long enough to be a fixture of the town. When Cullen's younger brother simply disappears without a trace one day, Cullen and his best friend Lucas are devastated. Cullen's mother and father, and Gabriel's best friend, Libby Truett, are also shocked and unhappy. Despite an extensive search, no trace of Gabriel can be found.

Cullen and his family work their way through the stages of grief. Lucas sleeps on Cullen's floor more often than not, having lost his own brother, and for the most part adopted Cullen and Gabriel as surrogates. Two weeks after Gabriel's disappearance, a man named John Barling show up in town, having come from Oregon, and insists that he's seen a Lazarus woodpecker, considered extinct for the last sixty years. He causes more commotion than Gabriel's disappearance does, and breeds a great deal of resistance as a result.

At the same time, Benton Sage is being sent on his first mission on behalf of his church. Reverend Hughes, responding to a request from Rameel Desta, sends Benton to Ethiopia. Benton is excited at first, and ready to do God's work, but life as a missionary is not at all what he expected it to be. Rameel takes him from town to town where they hand out food and medicine, and talk about God. Benton thinks his talents are wasted here and that there is little being done in the way of bringing these people to God. He sends a letter to the Reverend, asking to be relieved. Six weeks later, an envelope with a plane ticket home arrives, and Benton leaves Ethiopia. When he returns, expecting to be given a different assignment, Reverend Hughes tells him that he should rethink his plans to serve the church. Even his own father is so disappointed in Benton that he won't speak to him. Benton decides to accept one of the scholarship offers and returns to school at the University of Atlanta where he meets Cabot Searcy. When Benton commits suicide on Christmas, Cabot is tasked with boxing up his things. In the process, he discovers Benton's journal, which leads him to the Book of Enoch, and the beginning of a quest that will consume him.

He meets and marries Alma Ender (as a result of a pregnancy scare) who left Lily to live with her grandmother in Atlanta and go to University. When she tires of his inability to hold a job of any kind, and leaves him to return to Lily, he follows her, convinced that he can talk her into coming home. Alma believes she is home, and asks him to sign the divorce papers she sent, and leave her alone. When she adds that she has a date, Cabot is crushed. He can't just go home. Instead, he hangs around a convenience store until he discovers where he can find Cullen Witter, drives to his house and when a young man comes out, he presumes it is Cullen. He lures him closer, and after bashing him in the head with a flashlight, pushes him into the trunk. When Gabriel wakes sometime later, he has no idea where he is or why. Cabot will hold Gabriel for weeks, convinced that he is the angel Gabriel and that God had sent him to repair the damage that he had done the first time. Gabriel must maintain his composure in order to keep his life, while his family struggles with the idea that he might be dead. When he finally returns to Lily, and Cullen sees him walking up the driveway, he isn't sure Gabriel is real at first. He touches him without speaking and then knows for sure that in Lily, things come back.

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This section contains 664 words
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