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Apr 30, 2010

Nostalgic Friday: The Body of Christopher Creed

Welcome back to Nostalgic Friday! Since I love all things historical (culturally, physically, and personally) I do a post on Fridays honoring some awesome book that is a bit older. Many of them are books I enjoyed in my teens and others are books that I discovered as an adult that I think are relevant to YA readers.

This week's selBook coverection is one of my favorites. I almost always recommend it to middle grade kids who like intrigue, mystery, and realistic fiction. The Body of Christopher Creed by Carol Plum-Ucci was released in 2000.

The often-tortured class weirdo has disappeared, leaving an enigmatic note on the school library computer. Is he a runaway, a suicide, a murder victim?
Sixteen-year-old Torey Adams and his friends remember beating up Chris Creed when his gentle but obnoxious ways exasperated them. Now that he is gone, they joke uneasily about him to ease their guilt. The town is full of ugly rumors, as Torey's lawyer mother tells them "See, guys, this is what happens when a kid suffers a personal tragedy. Nobody wants to take responsibility. Nobody wants to admit they had a part in it. So, they spend a lot of time pointing the finger, and things just get worse and worse." Suspicion of murder conveniently falls on big, tough Bo Richardson, an outcast "boon" from the boondocks edge of town. Torey's smug assumptions about people are rattled when he discovers that his childhood friend Ali is secretly romantically involved with Bo, who displays surprising tenderness and maturity in caring for her.
The three try to solve the mystery of Chris's disappearance by attempting to steal his diary, but only succeed in implicating themselves, as the town is consumed with rumors and the revelation of adult secrets. Torey begins to find himself distanced from his other friends by his growing understanding of the importance of compassion toward those who are different.
-From Goodreads

Can I just tell you how much this book influenced me? Of all the books I read as an adolescent and teen, this is in the Top 5. The characters were so memorable and it kind of reminded me of another favorite, To Kill a Mockingbird. The "bad guy" from the wrong side of the tracks and the mystery surrounding the truth. I found myself identifying with many of the characters, not just one. We all know what it's like to be bullied and picked on and we all can imagine what it's like to be madly in love with someone and not be able to tell anyone.

This book seems especially relevant in light of recent headlines (examples here and here). I'm not one to usually drag the news into my blog, but this book really strikes home the effect that bullying can have on an individual. Kids can be very cruel and I found that The Body of Christopher Creed really focused on lessons that can be learned from such tragedies. The writing was also spot on and I really felt like the author understood the plight of teens. This is one of a few good novels from this time period when YA was still an up-and-coming genre. This is a great thriller/mystery that I think fans of Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher will appreciate.

1 comment:

Lauren said...

This is a really good book, I agree. I have all of Carol's books except for her most recent one. She's a wonderful YA author, and what sets her apart is that she writes about real people and real issues. I can really appreciate her style and topics, especially with the overkill of fantasy, vampire, and sci-fi books out there for the YA audience.