The Body of Christopher Creed by Carol Plum-Ucci

body-of-chris-creedBibliographic Information:

  • Publisher, Date: Harcourt, Inc., 2000
  • Edition: Most recent copy, 2008
  • Description:  259 pages; 18 cm
  • Interest Level:  YA
  • Summary: Chris Creed grew up as the class freak and the bullies’ punching bag. After he vanished, the weirdness that had once surrounded him began spreading. And it tore the town apart. Sixteen-year-old Torey Adams search for answers opens his eyes to the lies, the pain, and the need to blame someone when tragedy strikes, and his once-safe world comes crashing down around him.  Retrieved from
  • ISBN: 978-0-329-67188-4 (originally 978-0-15-206386-3)
  • Subjects:
    • Missing persons – Fiction
    • Juvenile Social Issues – Fiction
    • Legal Rights – Fiction

Reader’s Annotation: God, Creed is one of the most annoying people in the world.  I could just kill him; but I didn’t.

Plot Summary:  The story begins a year after the events surrounding the disappearance of a high school junior named Christopher Creed.  Torey Adams, a popular kid from a school in New Jersey finds himself drawn into the mystery surrounding this disappearance.  Creed, a kid he has known ‘forever’ just vanished after sending out a cryptic email message that some see as a suicide note and others fear is a misdirection by someone who has murdered the boy.  Creed was a seriously unpopular person whose behavioral quirks made him a victim of bullies and lead to his being generally rejected by everyone else.  Despite his own personal dislike of Chris, Torey finds himself pulled into the effort to solve the mystery by a friend, Ali and her other-side of the tracks boyfriend, Bo Richardson. Because Bo had once injured Chris who had been annoying him, Bo becomes a prime suspect in the minds of the authorities and Creed’s very strange mother.  The new relationship between Torey and Bo leads to the assumption that Torey was connected to his disappearance and effectively ruins his life in the school and town.  The question of where Christopher Creed went eventually becomes secondary to the power of gossip and rumor in a small town.

Critical Evaluation:  I read one review of this book that was negative based primarily on the reviewer interpretation of the characters as sounding younger than they were supposed to be.  Frankly, I often find the opposite to be true when dealing with YA literature; the characters frequently sound like thirty-somethings trying to be seventeen.  In this case I didn’t find the characters particularly young sounding.  At worst they sounded a bit over-protected and since that was one of the characteristics the author intended for them to have, that was okay.  In many ways this was a very realistic view of kids in that no matter how close some people are, they will turn on another member of the group if that member violates the rules that govern them.  Torey’s friends turned on him not because they really suspected him of harming Chris but because he was associating with a social inferior.  In many of their minds, that was worse than murder.

One problem I did have with the book was the first and last chapters which are written a year after the events of the story.  I don’t generally like flashbacks but as I read the story, I decided it was a small flaw that I could live with.  And while the book has a slow start, once Bo comes into the picture the story gets much more interesting.  I almost wish it had been written from his point of view because he was a much more interesting character than most of the others.  Overall, this is an excellent exploration not of murder or mayhem but of how quickly life can turn on a person.  Torey learned the hard way that something doesn’t have to be true to be dangerous or destructive.  The book does an excellent job of showing the fragility of life and how no good deed goes unpunished.

Author’s Brief Bio:  Carol Plum-Ucci attended the Brigantine Public Schools, Atlantic City Friends School, and Holy Spirit High School, graduating in 1975. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Communication from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana in 1979. She attended Rutgers University and received her Master of Arts degree 2004.

Plum-Ucci received one of the nation’s top literary honors for her first novel, THE BODY OF CHRISTOPHER CREED, a suspense story set in the historic woods of Southern New Jersey. The novel received one of four Michael J. Printz Honor Book Awards, sponsored by the American Library Association, recognizing the best literature published for young adults. The novel also was a finalist in the Edgar Allan Poe Awards and was named to the Reader’s International Children’s Choice Awards List.

Genre Designation: Mystery / Drama Fiction

Possible Curriculum Links:  English

Book Talk Ideas:  How would you deal with your friends suddenly turning on you?

Materials Relating to Potential Challenges:


Why this book was selected.  It was required reading for a course.


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