- Following Christopher Creed
The disappearance of bullied Christopher Creed (The Body of Christopher Creed, BCCB 4/00) four years previously sparked nationwide empathy among similarly mistreated teens, who followed the story on the internet. Now a body has been discovered in a field near Chris’ home, and one of those former blog readers, these days a college reporter, is desperate to get the story. He and his girlfriend travel to Steepleton, eager not only to find out if the body belongs to Chris but also to interview the townsfolk and trace what happens to a small town in the aftermath of a sensational and widely publicized tragedy. He finds that Chris’ brother Justin has become a “loadie,” using recreational drugs as well as prescribed ones to manage his bipolar disorder, while his mother has become a sad, occasionally manic alcoholic. The most interesting thing that Mike discovers, however, is the dysfunctionality of the town itself; it suffers from what Mike calls “bad frequency,” a condition where negative things happen with a regularity that seems to have nothing to do with any inciting event, but somehow are all connected on a deeply unconscious level. Mike’s own disability—partial blindness due to an accident—adds a layer of metaphoric complexity to his quest to see through the anguished bluster of the locals and uncover the truths that haunt the town, and his well-wrought, self-reflective narrative style makes him an integral part of the story he seeks to tell. The end result is a satisfying psychological exploration of a social milieu as well as a sense of closure to a case that left readers wondering what ultimately happened to Christopher Creed.