Who Killed Christopher Goodman?
Who Killed Christopher Goodman?

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Annotation: In this novel inspired by a tragic true event, the author explores the murder of a likeable teenage boy, and tries to answer the question, "How could this happen?"
Catalog Number: #140507
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Copyright Date: 2017
Edition Date: 2017
Pages: 269 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-7636-5613-5 Perma-Bound: 0-605-97622-8
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-7636-5613-3 Perma-Bound: 978-0-605-97622-1
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2017931943
Dimensions: 21 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
Horn Book
A half-dozen teenagers in 1979 Goldsburg, Virginia, narrate the story by turns--mostly with prose, some occasionally in poetry--allowing layers of plot and character to develop throughout the nonlinear narrative. Unbeknownst to everybody (but readers): affable seventeen-year-old Christopher Goodman is on a fatal collision course with an emotionally disturbed youth. An afterword reveals that this novel was inspired by actual events in Wolf's adolescence.
Kirkus Reviews
The day after a summer festival, two teenagers find the body of a schoolmate by the side of a road.The fictional college town of Goldsburg is the setting for this compelling novel based on a true story from the author's own hometown in Virginia. Goldsburg's annual Deadwood Days weekend is what keeps the local kids from total boredom. The shocking events of the summer of 1979 are narrated by a cast of white teenagers (all with epithets) who had all seen Christopher the night before he was murdered: Doc "The Sleepwalker" Chestnut, Squib "The Genius" Kaplan, Hunger "The Good Ol' Boy" McCoy, Hazel "The Farm Girl" Turner, and Mildred "The Stamp Collector" Penny. As a means to help the students work through their grief, they've been assigned to write memorial poems. The novel is cleverly constructed in their rotating prose and verse accounts starting four weeks after Deadwood Days and working backward. Set amid these narratives is the voice of the 15-year-old killer, Leonard "The Runaway" Pelf. The six teens have distinct personalities—Squib is pragmatic and cautious (and has Tourette's syndrome), for instance, and Hunger dabbles in taxidermy—and perspectives. Some hardly knew one another before the summer; some have close friendships tested. All of them feel some responsibility for the circumstances that led to that night's events. Within the confines of the assignment, they move nearly imperceptibly toward a greater understanding of themselves and each other. A heartfelt, intricate examination of what underlies human behavior. (author's note) (Historical fiction. 13-17)
Publishers Weekly
In a novel set in 1979 Virginia, Wolf (The Watch That Ends the Night) combines prose, poetry, and script-style dialogue as he traces the events that led 15-year-old Leonard Pelf to shoot and kill Christopher Goodman, 17, during their town-s annual Deadwood Days celebration. Shifting perspective among several teens who interacted with Christopher in the days leading up to the festival, Wolf weaves a tense story of shared grief and guilt. As Scott -Squib- Kaplan writes, -This is not Christopher Goodman-s murder. It is ours.... It belongs to every single one of us who is left alive.- The various narrative devices help keep the characters distinct (Leonard-s thoughts, written in verse, paint a picture of a foster child whose hopes and ambitions seem thwarted at every turn), though the story occasionally becomes slightly disjointed amid the frequent perspective changes. Closing notes reveal Wolf-s personal connection to this story: during his junior year in high school, a young neighbor was killed in a similar fashion. A spare yet powerful account of a teenager-s influence on his community and the rippling aftereffects of his death. Ages 14-up. (Mar.)

School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up&12; Christopher Goodman wears ridiculous bell bottoms, and the way he shakes hands with people is a little strange. He's also a genuinely nice guy, which is why everyone in Goldsburg, VA, is shocked when Chris is murdered during 1979's Deadwood Days, a Western street festival that draws tourists to the town every summer. While on a cross-country run, classmates Doc Chestnut and Squib Kaplan find Chris's body. Along with Hunger McCoy, Hazel Turner, and Mildred Penny, Doc and Squib carry the burden of knowing that they may have inadvertently played a part in the tragedy. As Wolf explains in his author's note, this mystery is inspired by an actual murder that occurred when he was a teen. The book features six narrators, including Chris's killer, and scenes that incorporate group dialogue are written in a screenplay format, which also extends to the book's initial "cast": David Oscar "Doc" Chestnut, the Sleepwalker; Leonard Pelf, the Runaway; Scott "Squib" Kaplan, the Genius; Hunger McCoy, the Good Ol' Boy; Hazel Turner, the Farm Girl; and Mildred Penny, the Stamp Collector. Distinctive narrative styles help readers differentiate among characters, with long-winded sentences for Squib, who has Tourette's syndrome, and verse passages for Leonard. Wolf uses these unique formats to excellent effect to create a gripping mystery as well as a thoughtful character study in which the six teens grapple with their actions on the night of the murder and their blame, if any, in Christopher Goodman's death. VERDICT Recommended for most YA collections, this fast-paced novel will appeal to reluctant readers as well as fans of mystery and suspense.&12; Emma Carbone, Brooklyn Public Library
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* Christopher Goodman's huge bell-bottoms and odd yet confident manner mark him as an outsider in the small town of Goldsburg, Virginia, but he's genuinely well-liked by just about everyone, even those who don't know him well. Wolf, inspired by real events from his youth, recounts Christopher's untimely death one August night in 1979 through the voices of six teens, including the shooter, and traces the intersecting threads that led both directly and indirectly to the murder. A whirlwind of circumstances, coincidences, and consequences bring Doc, Squib, Hunger, Hazel, and Mildred together in a perhaps ill-conceived plot for revenge, which nudges Leonard Pelf, a broken, angry, and desperate foster kid, squarely onto Christopher's path. Deftly escalating the tension, Wolf shifts the narrative focus away from Christopher as the murder approaches, and his absence is a noticeable void aders know his death is imminent, and every instance of Doc and his friends missing an opportunity to alter his route weighs heavily with the inevitable remorse to come. Wolf's dynamic, multifaceted characters come vividly alive through their distinct speaking voices, and their struggle to come to terms with not only their guilt but the senselessness of the universe is deeply affecting. Artful, thoughtful, and utterly captivating.
Voice of Youth Advocates
The Sleepwalker, the Runaway, the Genius, the Good Ol’ Boy, the Farm Girl, and the Stamp Collector: with this cast, one could be forgiven for instantly drawing comparisons to the Breakfast Club, and if that comparison finds this book more readers, all the better. The teens in Wolf’s story are drawn together in a far less contrived and far more frightening way than that famous film. Set in the summer of 1979, the death of the titlular Christopher happens in the first chapter. The remaining narrative consists of the teens describing the events of the few days leading up to the death, each in their own voice. Sometimes they interact, and readers get more than one voice at once; at other times, different characters take the lead or a main character provides an introspective chapter. There is poetry, prose, dialog, and song. Christopher’s voice is never heard. These are well-drawn characters, each much deeper than their role. Readers can empathize with them all as each assumes the blame for not being able to stop the murder, even if only for lack of saying, “Join us for pizza.” The consensus is that Christopher was kind, making his death all the more confusing for the survivors who do not see themselves the same way. This is a thoughtful, remarkably well done novel that clearly has percolated in the author’s mind for years. It is based on a real death in the author’s own history, but limiting its audience to the true crime section would be its own crime. This novel should reach an audience as broad as its cast, and find fans just as widespread.—Beth Karpas.
Reviewing Agencies: - Find Other Reviewed Titles
Starred Review ALA Booklist (Sun Jan 01 00:00:00 CST 2017)
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Horn Book
Kirkus Reviews
Publishers Weekly
School Library Journal (Sun Jan 01 00:00:00 CST 2017)
Word Count: 40,714
Reading Level: 4.5
Interest Level: 9-12
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 4.5 / points: 6.0 / quiz: 195248 / grade: Upper Grades

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.

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?


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