You Came Back:

A Novel

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A 2012 Kansas City Star Top 100 Book

A 2012 BookPage Best Book

A BookPage Top Pick, June 2012

Thirty-something Midwesterner Mark Fife believes he has successfully moved past the accidental death of his young son Brendan, as well as his subsequent divorce from his college sweetheart Chloe. He’s successful, he’s in love again, and he believes he’s mastered his own memories.

But then he is contacted by a strange woman who tells him not only that she owns his old house, but that she believes it to be haunted by Brendan’s ghost. Will Mark—who doesn’t believe in ghosts—come to accept the mounting evidence that Brendan’s is real? Will his engagement to his new love Allison be threatened by the reappearance of Chloe, who does believe? If the ghost is real, what can these two wounded parents do to help their son?

You Came Back examines the beauty and danger of belief in all its forms—not only belief in the supernatural, but in the love that binds parents and children, husbands and wives.

Editorial Reviews

“Moving without being mawkish…Coake’s descriptions are fresh and searing, and his considered, well-paced writing has the ability to draw from the reader a painful, arresting empathy.”

Observer (London)

“This novel exposes the raw nerve endings of love, life, and death and will stay with you long after you’ve turned the last page.”

Irish Examiner (Cork)

“Coake teases out the ways that people can be faithful—not only to spouses, but to the past, the future, and themselves.”

Publishers Weekly

“A captivating page-turner that examines the mechanics of loss and the seductions of belief, this novel, with is combination of tragedy and hope, has an irresistible appeal, offering quite a ride while still delivering a cold dose of reality.”

Library Journal

“In a gripping and sorrowful narrative, Coake explores the toll of grief, the value of loyalty, and the nature of belief.”


“[A] potent story, balancing supernatural gloom and marital conflict.”

Kirkus Reviews

“When I finished the last page of Christopher Coake’s amazing new novel, I set the book down with a sense of wonder. There’s a ghost in this story, to be sure, but this remarkable author is less concerned with the supernatural than with the all-too-too real specters that haunt us all—the ghosts of our former selves, the ghosts of the lives we might have lived had just a few things turned out differently. You Came Back will stay with me forever. What an incredible writer.”

Jennifer Finney Boylan, author of She’s Not There and I’m Looking Through You

Author Biography

Christopher Coake is the author of We’re in Trouble, which was chosen for the 2005 PEN/Bingham Award. In addition, he was among Granta’s Best of Young American Novelists in 2007, and his stories have been published in several literary journals. A native Hoosier, he received his MFA in fiction from Ohio State University. He now lives in Reno, where he teaches creative writing at the University of Nevada.

Reader Biography

Scott Holst earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with an acting emphasis from San Diego State University. He has lived in Los Angeles since 1996 and has focused exclusively on voice-over work. A versatile voice-over actor, Scott was featured in the Warner Brothers animated film The Ant Bully. He has also been featured in many radio and television commercials. His video game and interactive work includes voicing Eugene for Whacked! and Senel Coolidge in Tales of Legendia. His narration work includes parts in The Million Dollar Challenge for the Discovery Channel and the audiobook Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith.

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