Using intertwining storylines, Whaley tells the story of Cullen Witter as he experiences the disappearance of his brother, Gabriel. Bored, and aching to leave his small Arkansas town (which is currently obsessed with the supposed sighting of the thought-to-be-extinct Lazarus woodpecker), Cullen must endure the unhelpful pity of his neighbors, his family’s confusion and heartbreak, and his own constantly-shifting emotions about his brother. Using excellent dialogue and interesting changes in perspective, Whaley explores such themes as religious fanaticism, death, hope, grief, and resurrection.
This one takes a little while to get going, but, once it does, it’s excellent. I was especially able to relate to Cullen’s feelings about his town — that it’s too small, boring, and that everyone is just going through the motions of life, without actually living. He wants more than the town has to offer, but is unsure of how to get it, and is always afraid of becoming just another “town zombie”. Whaley’s novel features excellent characterization — each character is believable and carries much depth. The dialogue is entertaining and moves the story at a nice pace. At times, the novel can be a little bizarre, but is ultimately the story of a teenager having to deal with forming his own identity while coping with an unthinkable crisis. Makes for a great read!
This one has a great book trailer! Click here to watch.
*Printz Award winner*
*William C. Morris Debut Award winner*
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