The Body of Christopher Creed

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The Body of Christopher Creed
Author Carol Plum-Ucci
Genre Mystery
Published 2000
Pages 276
Awards Michael L. Printz Honor Book Award
ISBN 978-0152063863
Followed by Following Christopher Creed

The Body of Christopher Creed is a young adult novel by Carol Plum-Ucci. It tells the story of a high school student whose life becomes unraveled when he tries to solve the mystery of a classmate's sudden disappearance. The novel won the Michael L. Printz Honor Book Award.[1]

Plot summary[edit]

Torrey Adams, the narrator, moves to a new town and begins his senior year at Rothborne, a boarding school. As he starts thinking about how his year will be, he remembers how strange his junior year was, in particular, his former classmate Christopher Creed, who disappeared without a trace, except an email[2] to the principal.

Torey, with friends, and big dad reads the email from Chris. It hints at the possibility of either suicide or running away. The email mentions Torey and one of his friends, among other classmates, as guys who have "everything".[3] This makes Torey more concerned about Creed's disappearance and what has become of him.

At school, Torey begins to feel alienated from his friends Alex, Ryan, Renee, and girlfriend Leandra when they joke about Chris's disappearance and seem to take it lightly. The character Ali McDermott is introduced when she talks to Torey about Creed and asks him to come over that night, as she wants to show him something.

At Ali's house, Torey discovers that her home life is awful. He also meets Ali's boyfriend, Bo Richardson. Bo is a "boon" (a somewhat derogatory term in the community that refers to a group of students at their school who come from poorer homes and are avoided by the others, including Torey and his friends) who had injured Chris previously. After introductions the three begin to talk about Chris. Ali's window has a clear view into Chris's bedroom, and she describes seeing Chris hide a diary in a picture frame on the wall, the only place safe from his mother's prying eyes. Ali expresses her suspicions that Mrs. Creed had something to do with her son's disappearance, and the group becomes convinced that the evidence they need will be found in the diary.

Torey comes up with a plan: he will go to a nearby payphone and call the Creeds, demanding that they come meet him and bring money in exchange for information about Chris. Meanwhile, Bo will break in and take the diary. The plan backfires, and all three are brought to police headquarters. Torey's mother, a lawyer, intervenes, saving them from prosecution for the time being. However, Bo confesses to the phone call despite his innocence. Ali and her younger brother, Greg, spend the night at the Adams' house upon Bo's insistence. At the Adams' home Torey's mother hands Ali a notebook that Bo claimed was Ali's. It is actually Chris's diary, that reveals he had a girlfriend named Isabella. The diary claims that Isabella is a shy, quiet girl who had a romantic and intimate relationship with Chris over the summer and together they discover from Isabella's Aunt, a psychic, that one of them would die in the woods.

At school the next day, Torey becomes further distanced from his friends. Renee and Ryan question them about Bo Richardson. He successfully avoids his friends but leaves home sick during the school day. Ali comes to his house after school and tells Torey that Bo has been arrested. Leandra calls Torey and when Ali picks up the phone she accuses him of sleeping with Ali. Torey and Ali go to meet Bo, but run into several of Torey's friends, resulting in an altercation, whereupon Bo reveals to Ryan and Renee that their father, chief of police, had cheated on their mother with Mrs. McDermott.

Later, Torey finds Isabella in the telephone book, calls her, and leaves a message saying that Torey is looking for Chris and wants any information she has. After making the call Torey falls asleep, forgetting the call. Torey ignores his old friends and now ex-girlfriend at lunch; he and Ali sit with some "boons" instead. During lunch, the police, and Mrs. Creed, burst in to take Bo for questioning. Ali and Torey protest; both confess to the phone call, but the adults don't believe them and assume they are simply covering for Bo. In the principal's office, Torey attempts to explain to Mrs. Creed that Chris was socially awkward, but she still believes her son had "a very good life"[4] and could not have wanted to kill himself or run away.

A few days later when Torey returns home from school he finds a message from Isabella on his answering machine telling him to "come over anytime" to talk about Chris.[5] Ali and Torey then take a trip to Isabella's house and find out that she did not have a relationship with him but did have sex with him. Ali and Torey discover that Chris faked the whole relationship and wrote down the false information in his diary. Isabella also has Torey and Ali meet her psychic, Aunt Vera who proceeds to warn Torey that when he is alone he "will find him. In the woods."[6]

Upon returning to the Adams' home, Ali and Torey decide to go to the woods to see if they can find Chris's body. They don't find him. When Torey gets home, he receives a call from his friend Alex, asking him to meet up. When they meet behind Torey's house, Alex indirectly accuses Torey of being an accessory to Chris Creed's alleged murder. When they finish arguing with each other, Torey ventures into the dark woods alone.

When Torey turns to return home, he sees an Indian Spirit, a memory from his childhood. Torey follows it, and ends up in an old Indian burial ground. He breaks his leg when a boulder falls on it, forcing him to crawl into a grave. He sees neatly wrapped bodies, but spots a human body that isn't like the others. When he gets closer, he immediately thinks it is Chris, though it's really Bob Haines. Suddenly, air rushes through the space where Torey had crawled in, and the corpse starts peeling apart. Torey is traumatized and is sent to a mental hospital to recover. Since he can't stand the Steepleton gossip, he finished his junior year of high school at home.

Torey realizes through the course of the story that truth changes with each person's perspective. Torey ends his narration of the novel by stating that Chris's body was never found, but he does show some hope, through letters from people he thought could be Chris in disguise

Characters[edit]

  • Victor "Torey" Adams, a senior at the fictional Rothborne, a boarding school, is the narrator of the novel. What begins as mild interest in Chris's disappearance turns into a desire to help solve the mystery Of Chris's disappearance. Torey is conflicted throughout the book between his friends and those who want to help find Chris. At the beginning of the novel Torey is described as "your basic guy" and wears his hair in a ponytail.[7]
  • Bo Richardson, a tough rebel from the boondocks of Steepleton has "a good guy streak that [is] just as wide, probably wider, than his bad guy streak."[8] He has a mean exterior but cares deeply for his girlfriend Ali McDermott, her brother Greg, and his own siblings. Bo is infuriated with Mrs. Creed for accusing him of the murder of her son, and is determined to prove his innocence. This could be his reason in the novel for investigating Chris’s disappearance.
  • Christopher "Chris" Creed, the "weird guy" from Steepleton, vanishes after sending an e-mail to Glen Ames, the principal, hinting at running away or suicide.
  • Isabella Karzden, a laid-back waitress, with whom Chris had an imaginary relationship. She admits to helping Chris lose his virginity but makes it clear when introduced in the novel that she did not have a relationship with him.
  • Sylvia Creed, Chris Creed’s mother, who accuses Bo Richardson of murdering her son.
    • Alex Arrington,is Torey Adam's best friend. He plays football and is in a band with Torey. During the novel he begins to believe that Chris is dead and says to Torey that "{You and Bo] shot him in the woods".[9] This is the instigator of an argument that causes Alex and Torey’s friendship to collapse at the end of the novel.
  • Leandra, a cute, cheerleader with "long reddish hair" who, at the beginning of the novel, is Torey Adam's girlfriend.[10] She goes to the "Pentecostal church every Sunday," but by "Monday [she is] calling people ‘dirtbag’ and ‘turbo slut".[11] Actions like this cause Torey to question their relationship. Later in the novel she and Torey break up because of his involvement with the Christopher Creed case and the friendship with Ali McDermott.
  • Chief Officer, the Chief of the Steepleton police force. come off as a bully to Bo Richardson, Torey, and Ali. Allegedly hit 'Bo' in the interrogation room causing him to resign from his job.
  • Dr. Fahdi, the appointed psychiatrist that is hired to help Torey Adams after seeing Bob Haines’ body quickly decompose. He urged Torey to write his story and try to find Chris Creed.
  • Mrs. McDermott,a mother to Ali and Greg McDermott, who had relationships with many men which caused her divorce.
  • Leo, a senior who goes to school with Torey and doesn’t care a bout privacy or personal space. He is "just a little sideways"[12] as described by Torey.
  • Cartright,a senior prankster who is Torey Adam's roommate at the fictional school Rothborne. He only knows "bits and pieces" of Torey’s story about Chris.[12]
  • Mr. Creed, father of Chis Creed and husband of Mrs.Creed,
  • Bob Haines, father of Digger Haines who had "always wanted Digger to go into the Marine Corps".[13] After Digger was unable to join, his life went downhill and later he shot himself in a Lenape burial cave, to be found by Torey Adams.
  • Digger Haines, son of Bob Haines, who "lost his leg from the knee down" in a motorcycle accident.[14] He left Steepleton and became a lawyer.
  • Glen Ames, the principal of Steepleton’s high-school and a friend of Digger Haines. He was the recipient of Chris’s goodbye e-mail.
  • Ali McDermott, a cute cheerleader who is labeled a slut but is actually a loyal friend and is said to be the cause of the break up between Torey and Leandra. She is also the girlfriend of Bo Richardson. She also helped in the case of Christopher Creed.
  • Renee Bowen, Alex Arrington's girlfriend, also the Police Chief daughter. Very mean girl who always accused and said her dad will throw them in jail.

Major themes[edit]

The Body of Christopher Creed reveals the issues of the questionable nature of "reality" and the need to "be taken seriously".[15] Characters undergo several situations in which what they say is set aside instead of being addressed. In the novel Torey says that every person in Steepleton has their own "version of reality" that "has nothing to do with what’s true" or what's not true.[16] Following that his mother screams at him to "remain calm" instead of addressing what point Torey arose.[17] Similar situations occur throughout the novel where the children try to address a point and the adults push it aside to avoid the reality of their once "safe world" as Torey explains.[18]

Critics have also noted that The Body of Christopher Creed addresses the issue of the need to "blame others" when tragedy strikes.[18] A Chris Creed Book review states that the novel has an "interesting perspective" about how "cruel" they can be to one another. When "tragedy strikes" the townspeople of Steepleton look to others to blame instead of themselves.[15] For instance, Mrs. Creed is quick to jump to a conclusion that Bo either "murdered" or is "holding" Chris after Bo is taken into custody.[19] Although there was no hard evidence against Bo, she still jumps to the conclusion that he was the one responsible for her son. Evidence throughout the novel proves that the townspeople of Steepleton would rather cover up their problems by blaming others within their community.

Bibliography[edit]

Plum-Ucci, Carol (2001). The Body of Christopher Creed. New York: Volo. ISBN 0152063862. 

References[edit]

  1. ^ Beckman, Hank (23 February 2007). "Childhood home was a spooky setting, author says". Naperville Sun. 
  2. ^ http://www.bookrags.com/studyguide-body-of-christopher-creed/objectsplaces.html
  3. ^ Plum-Ucci, p.37
  4. ^ Plum-Ucci, p. 228
  5. ^ Plum-Ucci p. 238
  6. ^ Plum-Ucci p. 249
  7. ^ Plum-Ucci p.2
  8. ^ Plum-Ucci p. 115
  9. ^ Plum-Ucci p.274
  10. ^ Plum-Ucci p.58
  11. ^ Plum-Ucci 190
  12. ^ a b Plum-Ucci p.3
  13. ^ Plum-Ucci p.149
  14. ^ Plum-Ucci p.148
  15. ^ a b "The Body of Christopher Creed". Publishers Weekly. May 22, 2000. Retrieved March 14, 2012. 
  16. ^ Plum-Ucci, p.131
  17. ^ Plum-Ucci p. 131
  18. ^ a b Austin, Patricia (November 15, 2003). "Top 10 First Novels for Young Listeners". 100 (6). ISSN 0006-7385. Retrieved March 14, 2012. 
  19. ^ Plum-Ucci, p. 125

External links[edit]