The Creek

 
4.3 (3)
 
4.0 (4)
3118 0
Genre(s)
Age Range
12+
ISBN
006000133X
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Editor reviews

3 reviews

Highly Recommended Creek
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
0.0
Writing Style 
 
0.0
THE CREEK by Jennifer L. Holm encompasses many things. It is a psychological thriller, but it is also a coming of age story. It is the story of a sleepy suburban town, but it is also the story of a young girl named Penny. Most of all, THE CREEK shows that not everything is strictly black or white. Instead, there are shades of gray. Even the most well-meaning person can do something horrific. Sometimes, the loss of innocence is horrifying in itself.

Penny and her family moved to a new town a few years ago. Her father, a doctor, and her mother, young and well-liked by her kids and neighbors, are really good parents. Her brothers are younger than she is, Teddy being only a few years her junior and Sam being a baby. Before they moved there, a kid named Caleb terrorized the town. He was rumored to have killed animals as well as other kids and rigged accidents in which people were severely if not mortally wounded. He was sent away for years.

The story starts with Penny and her friends on a summer afternoon. Everything seems well and normal. That is, until Penny spots Caleb, who has returned to town.

As various pets go missing, the tension rises and the accusations begin to fly. In spite of their parents' instance that they not go into the woods and not go to the creek, Penny, Teddy and their friends continue to hang out in their fort. The neighborhood's traditional softball games and block parties which used to be so safe and happy become shattered by tragedies. The routines that they used to have are now plagued by loss and fear.

What is wrong? What is right? WHO is right? Penny struggles with these moral questions while simply trying to stay a kid and the only girl in a group of boys. She fights the changes that are happening to her, to her friends, and to her town. This is the summer that Penny turns thirteen. This is the summer that she is forced to grow up.

THE CREEK has a very interesting take on gossip gone wrong. It incorporates growing up with childhood fears - which, perhaps, aren't so childish after all. Each character had a distinct personality, especially Penny, the heart of the story. The point is never about redemption. Holm does not make Caleb have an emotional breakdown. He never begs and pleads to be forgiven. The point is, shall we say, much sharper than that.

One of the best things about this novel is that it can take place in Anytown, USA and in nearly any of the past five decades. More and more teen books make too many references to show how hip they are, but by the time the book is published, what was hot a few months ago is now cold, and the mentions make the work feel dated.

I highly recommend this novel, as well as other books by Holm. If you enjoyed THE CREEK, try Friction by E.R. Frank and The Crucible by Arthur Miller, both of which deal with hysteria within a community.
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Now, these kids are going to need some psychoanalyzing...
Overall rating 
 
3.0
Plot 
 
3.0
Characters 
 
0.0
Writing Style 
 
0.0
Jennifer L. Holm is perhaps best known for her historical novels featuring spunky girls (Our Only May Amelia, for instance). In The Creek, shes touching on entirely different territory. Still told through the eyes of a young girl twelve-year old Penny Carson this is a story of suburban terror.

Things seem perfect and idyllic in the Carsons corner of the world until a neighborhood boy that had been sent off to reform school (or perhaps, something even worse) returns. Suddenly, all anyone can think or talk about is Caleb. Their fears seem justified when strange things start happening in the neighborhood, just like before.

One of Pennys friends gets beaten up. Her brother accidentally steps in a trap in the woods marked by a fierce lightning symbol knifed into a tree. Pets begin to disappear. The kids even decide to take matters into their own hands, and thats when things really start to go bad.

This novel is about a lot of things (and Im going to stop describing the plot, since I dont want to give away any details), including how fast (and easy) it is to slip into savagery. How the little things pile up until, all of a sudden, things are really, really bad and you dont know how to get back. How one lie can turn into others.

This novel may honestly scare adults more than kids, as reading between the lines here gave me far more chills than the straightforward story. Even the good kids are scary at times and nothing is black and white. As an adult, I also would have wished for more and better character development. Caleb is shadowy at best, and even Penny is a bit of an enigma.

I guessed the ending about half way through, and some savvy younger readers might as well one of the reasons I gave as few details as I did above. Recommended for readers aged 12 and up, especially those looking for the kind of horror that is subtle, but just as chilling as the bloody stuff (though there is blood, trust me).
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Dive In
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
0.0
Writing Style 
 
0.0
THE CREEK by Jennifer L. Holm encompasses many things. It is a psychological thriller, but it is also a coming of age story. It is the story of a sleepy suburban town, but it is also the story of a young girl named Penny. Most of all, THE CREEK shows that not everything is strictly black or white. Instead, there are shades of gray. Even the most well-meaning person can do something horrific. Sometimes, the loss of innocence is horrifying in itself.

Penny and her family moved to a new town a few years ago. Her father, a doctor, and her mother, young and well-liked by her kids and neighbors, are really good parents. Her brothers are younger than she is, Teddy being only a few years her junior and Sam being a baby. Before they moved there, a kid named Caleb terrorized the town. He was rumored to have killed animals as well as other kids and rigged accidents in which people were severely if not mortally wounded. He was sent away for years.

The story starts with Penny and her friends on a summer afternoon. Everything seems well and normal. That is, until Penny spots Caleb, who has returned to town.

As various pets go missing, the tension rises and the accusations begin to fly. In spite of their parents' instance that they not go into the woods and not go to the creek, Penny, Teddy and their friends continue to hang out in their fort. The neighborhood's traditional softball games and block parties which used to be so safe and happy become shattered by tragedies. The routines that they used to have are now plagued by loss and fear.

What is wrong? What is right? WHO is right? Penny struggles with these moral questions while simply trying to stay a kid and the only girl in a group of boys. She fights the changes that are happening to her, to her friends, and to her town. This is the summer that Penny turns thirteen. This is the summer that she is forced to grow up.

THE CREEK has a very interesting take on gossip gone wrong. It incorporates growing up with childhood fears - which, perhaps, aren't so childish after all. Each character had a distinct personality, especially Penny, the heart of the story. The point is never about redemption. Holm does not make Caleb have an emotional breakdown. He never begs and pleads to be forgiven. The point is, shall we say, much sharper than that.

One of the best things about this novel is that it can take place in Anytown, USA and in nearly any of the past five decades. More and more teen books make too many references to show how hip they are, but by the time the book is published, what was hot a few months ago is now cold, and the mentions make the work feel dated.

I highly recommend this novel. I look forward to reading other books by Holm. If you enjoyed THE CREEK, try Friction by E.R. Frank and The Crucible by Arthur Miller, both of which deal with hysteria within a community.
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User reviews

4 reviews

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Aaaaahhhhhhh!
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
0.0
Writing Style 
 
0.0
Reader reviewed by Tobie

This book made me want to pee my pants with every page i turned. It scared me to death and the story line was soo suspenseful that i couldn't put the book down. i love how the kids take matters into their own hands and become dependant on one another. this book is great for any person who loves scary books or movies
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Interesting and Unpredictable!
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
0.0
Writing Style 
 
0.0
Reader reviewed by Val

The Creek is definitely an interesting and suspenseful novel that although has a predictable culprit over all is quite an intriguing book. The story begins with the introduction of Penny and her nieghbors who also happen to be boys and her best friends. One of the resons I liked this books so much was because it is relatable in contrary to what another reviewer of the book said. I have a friend who sounds so much like Penny its uncanning. Anyway, Penny and her friends are shell-shocked when they discover that Caleb Devlin who was sent away years ago after the disappearance of pets in the nieghborhood returns! Even stranger is wierd events like that of long ago start reoccuring for example the disappearance of pets and fires. Penny and the rest of the town thinks its Caleb Devlin back to his old tricks but can you ever be too sure is the real question posed in this story? I thought that Ms.Holm did a fine job of portraying horror with coming of age all through the eyes of a twelve year old tom-boy. The book had a great ending that left me, a usual picky person about book endings, especially horror novels which is why I tend not to read them contented! All in all, I would most definitely reccomend The Creek. Its not the greatest book in my oppinion that you will ever read but it certainly will help culture any literary mind!
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Great twists and turns!
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
0.0
Writing Style 
 
0.0
Reader reviewed by librariane

The neighborhood is tense and worried: Caleb Devlin is home again. Five years ago he did a
heinous crime that the adults wont talk about, so the kids imaginations run wild, and Penny starts to have panic attacks again because of all this. Penny and her brother Teddy are relatively new to the neighborhood, and Penny likes to hang with the guys. Their summer project is to build a
summer fort by the creek. But thanks to Caleb being home again, the kids are forbidden to play in the woods or go by the creek. Of course, no one listens to their parents and often sneak out to play in the woods or swim in the creek. When mysterious things start happening around the
neighborhood (e.g. pets missing), Caleb is immediately suspected. But Penny knows it could not be him, and struggles to figure out who really is causing all the mischief.

This is a suspense/horror novelI didnt want to stop until I got to the end so that I could find out whodunit. Using Pennys newness to the neighborhood was a good device to let the reader feel the action and the intrigue: we always know as much as Penny, thus feel like were part of the
crowd. Penny is a likeable enough character. Shes 13, and confused about many things that
young teenagers are confused about. Why does Amy (the 14 year old across the street) not like
her anymore? Why cant she just be one of the guys anymore? Does she really have to wear a
bra? I also enjoyed the boys around her, and her relationship with her brother. There are a
couple of murders in the book, brief references to sexual feelings (v. little) and some violence
(besides the murders). A good, quick read.
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Totally ridiculous!
Overall rating 
 
2.0
Plot 
 
2.0
Characters 
 
0.0
Writing Style 
 
0.0
Reader reviewed by bookworm9

Twelve-year-old Penny is looking forward to another summer of bumming around with her friends Mac, Benji, and Oren, and her younger brother, Teddy. But when Caleb Devlin arrives back in town after several years in a home for juvenile delinquents, rumors are flying about the horrible crimes he commited in the past. Then new mysteries start popping up, like missing pets and a fire in the kids' tree fort. People are injured, and then someone is murdered. But Penny has her own secret-- she knows it isn't Caleb. But who is the murderer...and will Penny live to find out?

First off, I'd like to say that I enjoyed Holm's historical fiction ("Our Only May Amelia" and the Boston Jane series), and was expecting good things from "The Creek." Unfortunately, she didn't deliver. Writing a suspense thriller for the middle school crowd is ambitious, and perhaps Holm should stick to historical fiction.

From the beginning, I was annoyed by the setting, which seemed straight out of a sixties sitcom, yet was apparently supposed to be present day. There is a brief mention of video games, and one or two expressions that are obviously current, but other than that the characters seem stuck in a time warp. They had names like Penny and Mac and Benji and Becky and Betty Ann. The kids are always playing outside, best friends because they are neighbors. I realize this was supposed to be a "hick suberb," but even hick suburban kids have computers. Holm should have placed her story in another error; it would have seemed more realistic.

Secondly, the story itself just bothered me. Caleb remains too much a shadowy horror movie figure, and Penny's erotic dreams about him, while intriguing, become disturbing because they are never explored. Holm boarders on creating a great portrayal of a tomboy teetering on the brink of womanhood, but she never fleshes out this theme sufficiently. As for the mystery, I admit I fell for Holm's red herrings, but the actual culprit came so much out of left field that it was disappointing. The scary scene was too brief, and the ending on the whole seemed rushed, with so much left unexplained and Penny herself never really developing as a character.
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