Thursday, June 11, 2009

Body of Christopher Creed (YA)

Plum-Ucci, Carol. 2000. The Body of Christopher Creed. Hyperion. 331 pages.

I had hoped that a new start away from Steepleton would make my junior year seem like a hundred years ago, rather than just one.

To say that The Body of Christopher Creed is haunting is an understatement. It is compellingly atmospheric. It completely draws you in. It's nearly impossible to put it down. Our narrator, Victor "Torey" Adams, is giving readers a personal glimpse into his nightmare. When the novel opens, we meet Torey. A new student--a senior--at a boarding school. We learn that there's something from his past that still haunts him. Maybe not quite so torturously as it once did. But something still holds him back from being that "normal" kid from two years ago. The football player.The musician. The boyfriend. The oh-so-normal, somewhat-popular guy. What is this something? Or should I say who is this something?

Who is Christopher Creed? Why should the reader care? The reader only sees Chris Creed through the eyes of various characters. We get impressions of him from Torey, from Bo, from Ali, from Alex and Ryan, etc. According to his classmates, Chris was weird. A definite freak. Someone who was out of touch with reality. A guy with a big, goofy grin who never knew when to shut up. Who never could quite sense when he was being obnoxious and annoying just by being there, by being himself. According to his mother, Chris was a happy, well-adjusted teen. He had no reason whatsoever to runaway from home. No reason to commit suicide. Therefore his disappearance must mean foul play. Surely, Chris, her very own son, would never of his own free will vanish. Who's the primary suspect? Well, that would be Bo, a boy from the wrong side of town. In this small-town, apparently, there is a lot of prejudice going on. It's nothing to talk trash about Boons, (folks from Boondocks; aka poor and trashy side of town, you know, where everything bad happens.) The whole town seems to have an us-versus-them mentality which is just freaky to be a little honest. But Ali and Torey believe Bo is innocent. In fact, there is a lot of disagreement. You've got folks thinking he was murdered. Folks thinking he committed suicide. Folks thinking he just ran away to get away from his controlling parents. Which of these theories is the truth? Will anyone ever be able to puzzle out the truth?

All of this is revealed through Torey. His written account of the events that led him to where he is who he is today.

Writing it was supposed to bring me some quote-unquote "healing," at least that's what Dr. Fahdi had said. Maybe it did; who knows? I got a load off my chest. But I was looking for other things, more important things, like the peace you get when things make sense and life seems fair. I never got that peace. Some nights I would remember and write and remember and write, and I was sure I was just being Dr. Frankenstein, trying to re-create a dead human. The dead never come back the way they were in life. Some nights I got convinced I was creating a monster.

The story is a complex blend of realistic fiction and mystery. (It'd also be right at home in the coming-of-age genre.) And It's just-right in the drama department. Plum-Ucci is a great storyteller. The way she weaves together the story, the way she reveals it bit by bit. It's gripping and intense that's for sure. It's atmospheric as well. I feel this town almost has a persona of its own in an eery kind of way.

This book is very well done. It is easy to see why this one earned a Printz Honor.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Debi said...

Okay, I would have gotten around to this sooner or later because of the Printz Challenge, but Becky, you definitely just made me want to make sure it's sooner!!!

Anonymous said...

This book is awesome and I've loved it forever and am really excited someone influential reviewed it so more people would give it a shot. Hearts!

Zibilee said...

I really like atmospheric reads, so this one sounds good to me. Your review was really in-depth. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I LOVED that book! I read it about a year after it was published, during my first year as a school librarian. A year or two later, I recommended it to a language arts teacher, who assigned it for summer reading only to have three parents bring a complaint about it. The principal read the book and thought it was one of the best she ever read and supported the teacher. The three students (all girls) were given an alternate assignment. Two of the three went and read it anyway and when they had to list their favorite books at the end of the school year, they both listed it.

Thanks for reviewing an older title. Sometimes it's frustrating to read a review only to find out that it's not being published for a while. And there really is so much good stuff out there that doesn't get its due.

I've only recently started following. Love the blog. What's The Printz Challeng?

Amy said...

Oh my gosh I feel like I have to read this RIGHT NOW.