Winner of the 2012 Michael L. Printz and William C. Morris Awards. Just when 17-year-old Cullen Witter thinks he understands everything about his small and painfully dull Arkansas town, it all disappears. 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.
...a refreshing and unpredictable spin on YA. It pulls you into a small town that you know too well, a suffocating place full of halfhearted ambition. But it leaves you hollow and gasping, a testimony to its thought-provoking, harrowing message ... There is something about the book and these characters that is always on the edge, looking into an abyss, perpetually wondering and speculating. And at any moment it might collapse into itself ... It is a very human book, with a vulnerable presence that lingers long after it has been put down ... It’s tinged with absurdity and humor, filled with long-winded sentences and a quiet madness pushing beneath the surface. Woven through all of this, Whaley tells a story that is voraciously sad and resiliently hopeful.
It's such a unique read combining so many different aspects of human life, putting them together in such a way that you're left feeling resolved when finishing it somehow. Every day things that we never think about in depth such as religions and our loved ones, they're always there but we take them for granted so much ... The way in which John Corey Whaley writes this book is fantastic. It's so accessible and fast paced, I got into it and couldn't stop until I'd finished the last page.
In a build-up that explores the process of grief, second chances and even the meaning of life, Cullen’s and Cabot’s worlds slowly intersect and solve the mystery of Gabriel’s disappearance in this multilayered debut for sophisticated readers ... Unexpected, thought-provoking storytelling.