Study Guide

Where Things Come Back Genre

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Coming-of-Age; Family Drama

Coming of Age

Once you strip away all the drama of a missing brother, a dead cousin, and a woodpecker's reemergence from extinction, Where Things Come Back is just a story about young people trying to grow up and find their paths in life. After all, Cullen Witter is seventeen-years-old, stuck in a small town, and trying to figure out what his mission is in life. And Cabot Searcy—as crazy as he seems—is trying to figure out the same for himself. He just happens to come to the conclusion that his life is meant to be lived according to signs and dictates from a higher power.

Family Drama

Once Gabriel disappears, a lot of the focus of Where Things Come Back is on the Witter family and how they cope with this gaping hole in their lives. Each character deals with their grief and anger in different ways, and they all find ways of being there for each other even when weighed down by their own grief.

We also get to see the family issues that crop up for Benton Sage, who can never make his father happy and proud no matter what he does. And Cabot Searcy gets disowned and disinherited when he starts to go down his path of religious mania—which sets him off by himself so that he's even more vulnerable to his flights of fancy.

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