Tag Archives: trauma

Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley

7 Oct

Well, it’s been a whopper of a week, folks. Between sicksies and worksies and all around busy..sies, I haven’t had much time to write. I almost considered just NOT reviewing John Corey Whaley’s wonderful¬†Where Things Come Back because it has a shiny medals on its cover so probably doesn’t need my promotion, but what the hey. It’s such a treat I thought I should probably go ahead and share.

I was seventeen years old when I saw my first dead body.

Cullen Witter is a snarky, intelligent teenage boy longing to escape the black hole that is his sleepy hometown of Lily, Arkansas. His world, both in micro and macro, unravels with a series of dramatic events during the summer before his senior year in high school. It starts with his cousin dying of an overdose, continues with Lily getting obsessed with the supposed reappearance of the extinct Lazarus woodpecker, and then things come completely undone when his beloved, sensitive fifteen-year-old brother, Gabriel, inexplicably disappears without a trace. Meanwhile, Benton Sage, a failed missionary trying to re-create his life after returning from a failed mission to Africa in utter disillusionment inadvertently infects his college room mate, Cabot Searcy, with an obsessive religious fanaticism, starting a chain of events that slowly draws these two disparate narratives together like ill-fated magnets.

I’ll start by saying that this is one of those books that makes me feel insecure about my own writing. Not only did this book win the Printz, which is prestigious enough, but it also won William C. Morris YA Debut Award. So, not only is this book really well-written and stupid full of literary merit, it’s also John Corey Whaley’s first book ever. Seriously? Just get out of here. I will say, however, that there were certain other Printz contenders that I loved more (ahem Scorpio Races ahem), but that’s more personal taste than anything else.

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Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta

14 Jun

So, about a month-ish ago before I lost my mind trying to move all my crap for the umpteenth time this year, I reviewed Melina Marchetta’s Finnikin of the Rock. I loved the crap out of that book and was chomping at the bit for the sequel, Froi of the Exiles¬†(Candlewick Press). I think that, in an alternate universe, I will write a paper about the psychological state of a person delving into a much-anticipated installation in a series versus that of a person cracking open a standalone or a first book. Totally different experiences, and if any of you are academic types I give you permission to steal my genius ideas and go win the Nobel. Anyways, I was excited, and alas, while I did really like Froi I didn’t LOVE it the way I did Finnikin.

It’s been three years since Finnikin and Isaboe reclaimed Lumatere from the imposter king, and both the land and its people are still healing. Froi has spent the past three years working the land with Lord August, studying with the Priest King, and training with the King’s Guard. When Froi is sent on a mission to infiltrate the royal court of Charyn so he can assassinate the king who orchestrated the Five Days of the Unspeakable, he finds himself drawn into the tragedy of the mad princess Quintana. You see, Charyn has its own cute little curse: no child has been born or conceived there for eighteen years. Quintana, through her own oracular proclivities, long ago claimed that she was the only one who could break the curse, and so has been essentially whoring herself¬† out to royal d-bags for her entire young adult life in order to save her country by producing a child. As Froi struggles to find a way to fulfill his mission, he slowly loses himself into the twisted workings of accursed Charyn, and each twist brings him closer to finding out what his destined role in all the madness is.

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