Study Guide

Where Things Come Back Sadness

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Spoiler alert: Where Things Come Back isn't exactly a happy, go-lucky tale. The book starts off with Cullen staring down at the body of his dead cousin, and things don't improve much from there. His little brother, Gabriel, promptly goes missing, making it The Worst Summer Ever. Everything that happens is clouded by this sense of loss—Cullen's family has lost two young people before their time, and no one knows how to cope. On top of that, Cullen also has to deal with heartbreak when the girl he's been pining after for all these years starts going out with him… only to leave him for her ex-boyfriend. That's harsh. Way harsh.

Questions About Sadness

  1. How do Gabriel's different family members cope with his disappearance?
  2. Why does Cullen break down when Ada asks him about Gabriel?
  3. Do you think that Lucas is suffering from Gabriel's disappearance? Why or why not?
  4. How does Aunt Julia deal with her son's death? Do you think she'll ever be happy again? 

Chew on This

Cullen puts all of his hopes and dreams on Ada when Gabriel disappears, and wants her to bear the weight of his sadness. This becomes too much of a burden for her though, which is why she leaves him by the end of the book.

Though Cullen's parents react to Gabriel's death in different ways—his dad becomes more active in looking for him, while his mom acts like nothing happened—they are both just trying to find ways not to be swallowed by their sadness and despair. 

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