Rating: 4.5 stars
Cover Rating: 3.5 stars (It's relevant and okay, but I don't love it.)
Genre: Young Adult
Genre: Young Adult
Publication Date: May 3, 2011
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Page Count: 228 p.
Add it: Goodreads
"If I had a gun, I would shoot the Lazarus woodpecker in the face."
Colin is your typical seventeen-year-old kid in a small, dull Arkansas town. Nothing exciting ever really happens, and he dreams of escape. Enter John Barling. He is a middle-aged man who has supposedly seen a bird that was thought to be extinct—and he's seen it in Lily Arkansas. Now Colin's town is in a Lazurus frenzy. Everyone has high hopes about what this means and what this means for Lily. Then Colin's brother Gabriel disappears. Hardly a mention can be made above the woodpecker hubbub. Weeks pass and Colin gets more hopeless, while the town's hopes raise higher at the thought of that damn Lazurus woodpecker. In another Southern town a young missionary has returned from Africa down-trodden. He wants to spread God's word, but doesn't think that just feeding people is enough to do it. Slowly these two stories meld together and show that things don't always make sense or happen as you expect them to.
This was an interesting novel to say the least. At first I was quite confused on how Benton Sage (missionary) came in to play for this novel. Of course, as the story progressed, things started to fall into place. This is a book with a lot of thinking. That's not a bad thing...mostly. Colin really could have used a time out moment and not though for awhile. He thought too much sometimes, and occasionally it would make him go a bit crazy. I really enjoyed the contrast between the hopefulness that the woodpecker brought the town and the hopelessness that Colin and his family felt about ever finding out what happened to Gabriel. I can see why this book won awards, it's so thought provoking and strange. When the story starts really picking up and coming together it starts to get really crazy, still thoroughly interesting though. I was curious to reach the inevitable conclusion, and was not disappointed. I almost wish Colin and Gabriel's roles were reversed though, because I would have loved to be inside Gabriel's head more. This was a fascinating and though-provoking read that you should definitely give a shot to.
"I was seventeen years old when I saw my first dead body."
"She reminded me of sadness."