Thursday, February 23, 2012

Holy Moly- No Wonder It Won Two Top Awards! Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley

Despite the fact that the picture of the author looks like he could have been my student a few years ago...this was an incredible read. I need to go back and reread it immediately. I knew it would be all over our Book Awards talk next year, so I had to read the novel that won BOTH the Printz and the Morris Award this year.

The layers, oh the layers! I love layers in a novel. First, we have the religious aspect, which I found fascinating. The Gabriels and the Lazaruses (Lazari???:), and the Book of Enoch- which I'd never even heard of before? Not to sound like a religious scholar, but I guess I'm not up on my Gnostic Gospels and other sundry books left out of the Christian bible. I loved the threads of redemption, resurrection (of things and people) and obsession where Cabot and Benton were concerned.

I'm having difficulty doing this in a linear fashion because I want to talk about the layers. The other layer I loved was all of the different forms of love in the novel: friendship love, family love, brotherly love, romantic love and neighborly love. The ties between Cullen, Gabriel and Lucas really tugged at my heartstrings, hoping beyond hope that Gabriel would be found/rescued before the end of the novel.

Additionally, the whole idea of "things coming back" both physically and spiritually really hit home with me. So many of the characters tried so desperately to get out of Lily, Arkansas, only to be brought back by a variety of circumstances, like an endless boomerang being flung from the town's limits. But, I guess I am still wondering at the end if Gabriel really made it back or it was part of Cullen's 3rd person narration at work in his own mind. The book's website made me think it was a real return, but that kind of spoils the discussion I would want to have with students. There is evidence for both sides.

So much more here, but I will keep it at that. This will fly off of the shelves. Can't wait to book talk it on Monday.

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