Thursday, November 09, 2006

[Book Review] THE BODY OF CHRISTOPHER CREED by Carol Plum-Ucci

Fiction/Young Adult Coming of Age

Jessie Marshall reviews THE BODY OF CHRISTOPHER CREED by Carol Plum-Ucci (Harcourt, 2000):

Written as a flashback from the point of view of sixteen-year-old Tory Adams, The Body of Christopher Creed tells the story of the unexplained disappearance of the class misfit, and the ways in which this mystery affects others in the small town of Steepleton, New Jersey. Initially, Tory and his friends see a clear, two-group division of the teens in their high school, the affluent cool kids and the "boons," or outcast rural students who live in the boondocks. Once Chris Creed vanishes, Tory begins to see everything differently. When his name and those of several friends appear in Chris’ suicide note, Tory regrets the way he and the others treated Chris and wonders whether or not their behavior was the reason behind the disappearance. As Tory’s awareness grows, the shallow, immature antics of the other cool kids start to annoy him. He begins to notice subtle changes in Ali, his childhood friend. She no longer fits the stereotypical image he has always had of her, and Tory is shocked to learn that Ali’s new boyfriend is Bo Richardson, a "boon" with a juvenile record. Soon Tory also sees beyond the view he has previously held of Bo, and begins to realize that Bo is a responsible, caring person upon whom Ali and the boy’s own family depend.

Tory, Ali, and Bo become unlikely allies in searching for answers in the disappearance. They are convinced that the missing boy’s hidden diary will reveal the truth, and they form a plan to break into the Creed’s house to steal the book. Their plan goes awry, Bo is caught, and Tory falls under suspicion. The continuing investigation acts as a catalyst bringing out accusations and speculation; secrets and scandals in the adult community of Steepleton begin to emerge also. Plum-Ucci provides an unexpected and satisfying resolution to the mystery.

This book should appeal to readers of all ages. The dialog and thought-provoking plot line are realistically written, but contain adult situations and a considerable amount of adult language. In this coming of age story, Tory learns that things are not always as simple as they first appear. He comes to realize that people are responsible for their words and actions, and also that everyone deserves to be treated with respect and compassion. Young adult readers will enjoy the familiar character types, realistic dialogue, believable teen interactions, and multiple plot lines. The early part of the story is moderately paced, but becomes fast paced as the plot nears conclusion.

You might also enjoy these similar titles:

S. E. Hinton, The Outsiders
Walter Dean Myers, Monster
Lois Duncan, Killing Mr. Griffin

Jessie Marshall, Business & Science Department

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Thanks for the recommendation. I am intriqued by your description of a young man questioning his own world view.

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