fp June 2017
Who Killed Christopher Goodman?
from Candlewick Press...
Everybody likes Chris Goodman. Sure, he’s a little odd. He wears those funny bell-bottoms and he really likes the word ennui and he shakes your hand when he meets you, but he’s also the kind of guy who’s always up for a good time, always happy to lend a hand. Everybody likes Chris Goodman, which makes it especially shocking when he’s murdered. Here, in a stunning multi-voiced narrative — including the perspective of the fifteen-year-old killer — and based on a true and terrible crime that occurred when he was in high school, author Allan Wolf sets out to answer the first question that comes to mind in moments of unthinkable tragedy: how could a thing like this happen?
Inspired by a tragic true event in his past, Allan Wolf examines the circumstances of one boy’s inexplicable murder and the fateful summer leading up to it.
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This novel, written in both prose and verse, follows a group of teenagers both before and after the murder of Christopher Goodman. Set in the fictional town of Goldsburg in 1979 we follow 6 teenagers whose lives intersect. The central event is the Deadwood Days festival which all the teens have some involvement in. Told in multiple voices, each teen has a distinct personality (eg Scott “Squib” Kaplan has Tourette’s and is very scientific in his interactions, Hunger McCoy is a keen taxidermist, Mildred Penny collects stamps and so on. What they all have in common is some link to Christopher Goodman and each has a sense of guilt over his death, or even a feeling of responsibility for it. Each will face friendships being tested.
The novel is divided into 13 chapters with each covering a specific period either before, after or during Groundwood Days. Alongside this is an English assignment given to each character who have to write a memorial poem for Christopher Goodman. These are revealed at the end of the book. What I found most interesting about this book, is the fact that it is based on a real incident from the author’s youth. This is detailed in the Author’s Note at the end of the book. It shows how some events stay with one throughout their life. It also makes the reader consider the unintentional consequences of actions, which at the time may seem minor.