Winner of the 2012 Michael L. Printz and William C. Morris Awards, this poignant and hilarious story of loss and redemption “explores the process of grief, second chances, and even the meaning of life” (Kirkus Reviews).
In the remarkable, bizarre, and heart-wrenching summer before Cullen Witter’s senior year of high school, he is forced to examine everything he thinks he understands about his small and painfully dull Arkansas town. His cousin overdoses; his town becomes absurdly obsessed with the alleged reappearance of an extinct woodpecker; and most troubling of all, his sensitive, gifted fifteen-year-old brother, Gabriel, suddenly and inexplicably disappears. Meanwhile, the crisis of faith spawned by a young missionary’s disillusion in Africa prompts a frantic search for meaning that has far-reaching consequences. As distant as the two stories initially seem, they are woven together through masterful plotting and merge in a surprising and harrowing climax. This extraordinary tale from a rare literary voice finds wonder in the ordinary and illuminates the hope of second chances.
©2012 John Corey Whaley (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
This was a fascinating story to listen to, because there are two stories being told, which become blended together toward the end.
This was my first listen for both narrators, and they both did a great job.
Short, Simple, No Spoilers
This is an amazing tale of brothers Cullen and Gabriel. While the town goes cukoo in search of a rare and possibly non-existent woodpecker, Gabriel goes missing. Cullen is left to spend his senior year worrying and accepting pity glances and casseroles from the townsfolk. The tone is straight forward, a little deadpan and sombre, yet humorous. The entire idea is clever and I loved it. If you choose to read it, I have to share that I believe the last sentence is one of the best in YA novels of all time. Just when you're confused and don't think Whaley can pull it off, he wraps it all up with a shocking and satisfying conclusion.
"You will not regret this book"
I have to say that I found this book to be brilliant. It holds a certain amount of magical realism in it though there was nothing explicitly magical in it. It was just the author's way of weaving what seems to be two stories but turns out to be a whole mess of people's stories together, making each and every character wonderful and sympathetic.
The book starts brilliantly, drawing out the disappearance of Gabriel so that we can see who the characters were and how they change over the course of the novel. This book is particularly bizarre and real at the same time, with the main character constantly daydreaming about scenes that he doesn't feel comfortable himself in dealing with. (However the only thing that irked me is that when this happened, Cullen would constantly refer to himself in third person, and it got a bit tiresome after a while).
The second story seems random but it is woven together very well, leaving you very satisfied with the outcome of the book. This books is just about a good kid with a good story told remarkably well, transporting you to the places where this book takes place. Lily, Arkansas was one of my favourite things about this book, it was just told so well you believed that it existed, and these people existed and so on and so forth.
Just....read it. Please.
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