Plum-Ucci, Carol. The Body of Christopher Creed. Hyperion, 2001. ISBN 978-0786816415 336 pp. $
Every class has a kid that everyone picks on, and in Steepleton, it’s Chris Creed. He’s the type that has an annoying grin plastered on his face no matter how you insult him, the one who never seems to get it when you scream at him to leave you alone. One night he doesn’t come home.
A cryptic email that reads almost-but-not-quite like a suicide note surfaces, and in it, Chris admits that he DOES know how much he was disliked, that he wishes he were born as someone else, someone with a more perfect life–and lists 10 classmates. One, Torey Adams, is haunted by this revelation, and feels immense guilt over treating his troubled classmate badly in the past. He is shocked at the way his clique jokes about Chris’s disappearance, and how lightly they take the fact that someone they have known since kindergarten may be kidnapped, or run away, or murdered, or dead by his own hand.
Torey’s perfect existence begins to fall apart as he turns his back on his shallow friends, hangs out with the school [bad girl:] and a guy from the wrong side of the tracks, and starts investigating Chris’s disappearance. Skeletons of all shapes and sizes come out of their closets. The gossip, lies and backstabbing at the high school are a microcosm of what goes on in the small town society. I found the novel slightly S.E. Hinton-ish–which just goes to show that things haven’t changed much between the haves & have-nots in 25+ years.
Plum-Ucci has created a dynamic and sensitive teen who takes an honest look at high school society, friendship and small town life. Torey reflects on people, friendship, and the truth, and his voice is honest and authentic.
I really enjoyed the premise of the book, too, which is that Chris never turned up dead or alive and Torey is still searching for him, using a website to tell his story. If the author wanted to play more with the format, designing the text to look more like a website might have been sort of cool. This might also work as an eBook. This book will really appeal to fans of Nancy Werlin as we await her next gem and could make for a good discussion on how teens relate to one another in groups.