Aug 2, 2013
Author: Darren Hynes
Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin Canada
Format: Electronic ARC
Source: From Publisher, For Review (via Netgalley)
Fifteen-year-old Wayne Pumphrey wishes he were courageous enough to actually send the heartfelt letters he writes to friends and family. He also wishes his father would drive on the right side of the street, his mother would stop packing her suitcase to leave, and his sister would stop listening to Nickelback. But most of all, he wishes that Pete “The Meat” would let him walk to school in peace. After all, how many times can one person eat yellow snow?
Then one morning, while facing Pete and his posse, Wayne is rescued by Marjorie, the girl with a dead father and a mother who might as well be. Together, the two of them escape Pete’s relentless bullying by rehearsing for the school play, and an unlikely friendship is formed. As they grow ever closer to one another, they begin to dream of escape from their small town and restricted lives. But Pete now has plans for both of them—and after a moment of sudden violence, nothing will ever be the same again for Wayne, Marjorie, or Pete himself.
At the young age of 15, Wayne Pumphrey has not experienced much in his small Atlantic Canada town, but he’s experienced enough to believe not to talk back when other insult him. Not to shove back when his classmates push him. Not to fight back when he desperately wants to. Not to tell his own mother to stay on the occasion that she packs up and threatens to leave him with his wayward sister and alcoholic father. Instead, he writes. In his room, he writes letter to all of the people (and sometimes objects) that he wants to talk to. He writes to his mother, his father, Pete the Meat, and the one girl who stood up for him when nobody else would, Marjorie who lives across the street and has her own demons inside of her.
Marjorie’s one act of bravery against the bullies that constantly prey Wayne results in a slow, timid friendship between the two misfits. Through the school play, the two teenagers discover their similar hopes of one day leaving their small town and the responsibilities it holds for the both of them. But Pete the Meat is a bully with a past of his own—a bully who hates being embarrassed in front of others. When Wayne and Marjorie’s defiance against him is seen by the whole school, he makes it his own responsibility to ensure that they never embarrass him again… And in the span of a few moments (and a ridiculous number of reckless decisions), Pete, Wayne, and Marjorie’s lives are changed forever.
This was a very hard book to read for me. I have always been critical of books that surround topics such as bullying and assault, but I will say that Hynes has approached the topic in a very realistic manner, in a way that the reader can experience exactly all of the terrible things that Wayne was subjected to. Wayne is a wonderfully written teenager—he doesn’t really know why people treat him this way, why his family is the way it is, why he refuses to fight for himself. He is confused and unsure of himself, and it was great to see that because that is exactly what being a teenager is about. He discovers a lot about himself as the months pass, and he discovers even more about his small town and the people that live inside of it.
Darren Hynes has written a painfully realistic story of a boy who has so often been defined by the treatment of the people around him, a story of bullying and how it can affect every single person that is involved. Creeps is Wayne Pumphrey’s story of how bullying began as a game, and then became something much more. This is a very good book, and I wholeheartedly recommend it to those who love realistic fiction that touches upon some sensitive topics. I look forward to Hynes’ releases that follow, and will keep an eye on his following works.