So, I was really close to sending John Corey Whaley a tweet, thanking him for ripping my heart out while I read his book Where Things Come Back at work, (where I almost started bawling,) but now I’m thinking it should be something more along the lines of: you’re a storytelling genius.
When I saw Where Things Come Back won the Michael L. Printz award for 2012, I knew I had to read it! (John Green’s Looking for Alaska won in 2006.) I started following Whaley on Twitter, and saw this photo (he’s at The Strand! (which is still on my hypothetical Bucket List) with his book with the cool gold seal!):
and I was just so excited for him. This is his debut novel, and he won such an awesome award. So, even though it’s taken me a few months to get to it, as soon as I saw it sitting on the shelf at the public library I snatched it up! Here’s the thing, I started reading this story without having any real idea what it was about. I didn’t read the inside of the front cover. I had skimmed a few blog entries, and seen countless words of praise regarding the book across the internet over the past few months, but I basically wanted it to be a surprise. A surprise it was from the very first chapter. I want to do the same for you here, by not revealing any detail, other than to say it’s a poignant, intriguing, thought-provoking work of art. I love these quirky characters in their small town of Lily, Arkansas. I laughed a loud as I read their funny insights, commiserated with their sorrows, winced at their tragedies. It’s gritty, real, and challenging. As I tried to explain the story to my roommate last night, I told her how even though there are some really sad things happening, it’s written in a way that you can get through them. I didn’t drop the book on the floor and burst into sobs, but rather, continued reading voraciously turning the pages. This is a ridiculously charming story, and I couldn’t read it fast enough, dying to see how all the threads would tie together in the end. If you haven’t checked out this wonderful story yet, I highly encourage you to do so! And if by chance you’ve already read it, and want to chat feel free to leave me a comment!