Study Guide

Where Things Come Back Love

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Like most teenage boys, I, Cullen Witter, was in love with a beautiful girl who had a big, burly boyfriend who would just as soon kick my ass as look at me. (1.14) 

Ah, young love. It's clear that Cullen Witter has been "in love" with a girl who hasn't ever really given him the time of day… and maybe that's what makes his situation so romantic. 

The unspoken philosophy of all those in love with Ada was something like this: If I have to die to get that, then death it is. (1.16) 

Is it really a good idea to pin your romantic hopes on someone who's known as the Black Widow? Ada's boyfriends may all end up dead, but that doesn't stop Cullen from wanting a shot with her. He's got priorities, after all. 

When I told him that I wanted to write a book about zombies taking over our town, he suggested that I make myself the hero and said nonchalantly, "You could even have to kill me after I get bitten. Wouldn't that be an awesome twist?" I didn't tell him then, but I had no intention of ever letting him die in any book. (3.43) 

Having Gabriel die in his zombie book probably <em>would </em>be an awesome twist, but Cullen would never let that happen. He loves his brother way too much to let him die—even in fiction. 

Here's what I knew: My brother was taken from me. He did not run away, because he wouldn't. He couldn't. He would never. (5.124) 

People may think that all teenagers who disappear are discontented runaways, but Cullen and his parents know better: Gabriel loves them all too much to just take off without a word. 

At some point over that next week I had decided that even if Ada Taylor was showing me attention and affection purely because she felt sorry for me, I was still madly in love with her. (11.10) 

Talk about puppy dog love. Cullen's so obsessed with Ada that he doesn't care about her reasons for dating him; he's just happy to have any attention and affection from her at all. 

He still spent most of his time with me and slept on my floor a good four nights of the week. I loved Lucas Cader, in a very nonsexual way, and this all suited me just fine. And Lucas Cader was as heartbroken over Gabriel as I was, if not more so. (13.21) 

So bromantic. Lucas and Cullen are in it together for the long run; they know all of each other's faults and past tragedies, and they still totally accept one another. In fact, tragedy only brings them closer. 

He imagines […] Libby walk across the room, wrap her arms around Gabriel's neck, and squeeze him tightly. He hears her say she loves him. He hears Gabriel say it back. His brother, he thinks, was in love with everyone he knew. (13.80) 

Cullen has nothing bad to say about his brother because Gabriel treats everyone with love and kindness. That's why everyone is so thrown by his disappearance; they don't know what to do without that light and goodness in his life. 

He seemed carefree to Alma, and that was what she desired to be. To Cabot, Alma Ember seemed just innocent enough to be loved but adventurous enough not to bore the hell out of everyone. (14.81) 

That's the big mistake that Alma and Cabot make: They don't fall in love with the other person, faults and all. Instead, they idealize each other, turning the other person into exactly who they want to be with. 

I had never before felt compelled to turn around and hug my aunt, but something made me do it, the same thing that makes people hold doors open for old ladies at the grocery store or stop and let people cross the road; things that felt regular and impersonal to those doing them, but meant the world to those on the receiving end. (15.69) 

Sometimes it's the small gestures that really reveal how much you love someone. Cullen is anti-hugging, but he'll still hold out his arms to his aunt because she's lonely and miserable and depressed. 

"It means that had Russell never met me, he probably would never have ended up down there in Florida drunk off his ass and wrecking his car. It's my fault, any way you slice it. I never got a chance to take care of the last two, so I need to be there for him now." (17.92) 

Ada may not be madly in love with Russell, but she loves him enough to want to be there for him after his accident. After all, she's the one who is supposedly cursed, and it seems awfully unfair that he'd be paralyzed just for loving her. 

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