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.
Winner of the 2012 Michael L. Printz Award Winner of the 2012 William C. Morris YA Debut Award
I had high hopes for this novel. I mean reading the description and the glowing reviews, I expected an eerie story that was unique. Instead what I got was a highly predictable plot with very little character development. There were times when I felt twies of emotion for the characters. For instance, when Cullen's mom locks herself in Gabriel's room and when Gabriel begs to be released I felt something. But overall, these feelings didn't last. I, however, did find the switching of the narrator from first person to third made the book a more interesting read. I would be very interested to know what others thought? This morning in book club someone mentioned that maybe the book ending wasn't what I believed. Mmmmm...if so, that makes the book more interesting. You can pick up a copy in the Scona LIbrary today and let me know ...was the finale heartbreaking or rather, as the optimist in me believes, reaffirming?