Study Guide

Where Things Come Back Chapter 1

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Chapter 1

All the Idealism in the World Couldn't Shake This Feeling

  • The narrator starts off with a cheerful topic: how many dead bodies he's seen in his life. At seventeen, the narrator—Cullen—says that he's seen two dead bodies in his life.
  • He's come to the morgue to identify his cousin Oslo's body. It's clear that he overdosed on drugs, which they all knew was bound to happen.
  • Cullen goes home with his mom and little brother, Gabriel, to find that his Aunt Julia is already at their house and crying hysterically. After all, it was her kid that died.
  • When he goes into his room, he writes down Oslo After Death as book title #71. Cullen is always trying to come up with fun book titles, and he keeps a long list in his journal.
  • He starts thinking about how being seventeen in a small town has made him kind of a pessimist, and that he only really has two friends: his brother Gabriel and a guy named Lucas.
  • Like every other seventeen-year-old boy, Cullen is in love with a hot girl. Unlike every other seventeen-year-old boy, the girl he's in love with (Ada Taylor) is known as a black widow because all her previous boyfriends have died in accidents. On top of that, she's also dating a big beefy dude named Russell Quitman. Talk about off limits.
  • Cullen used to be bullied by good old Russell and his cronies. For some reason, Gabriel always avoids being bullied even though he's a truly weird kid.
  • The town where they all live—Lily, Arkansas—is pretty dull, especially for some teenagers looking for trouble. Cullen is eternally bored, although his little brother seems pretty content and amuses himself with reading, listening to music, or hanging out with his best friend, Libby Truett.
  • Because he's so darn bored (even after seeing a dead body), Cullen calls up his friend Lucas to see what they can do. Lucas is a cool guy, but Cullen finds his girlfriend, Mena Prescott, annoying. Lucas and Cullen decide that they're going to go on a ride.
  • The boys pull up to Burger Box, and Mena Prescott runs out to kiss Lucas and Cullen on the cheek, which makes Cullen think about her past—which involves dating his now-dead cousin Oslo.  
  • Cullen's mind starts to wander, as it often does. He imagines Russell Quitman as a zombie, and that Cullen and Lucas would go after him with an axe in order to save his little brother's life. 

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