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Charming Book

  • Jun 19, 2006
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The Book of Fred by Abby Bardi is a sympathetic portrayal of the upheaval in 15-year-old Mary Fred's life when she is removed from the isolated fundamentalist sect with which she has lived most of her life and sent to stay with a foster family consisting of single mother, Alice and her teen-aged daughter, Heather.

Mary has been raised in a totally primitive environment and believes devoutly in the divinity of the leader of her sect, Fred. There is a constant culture clash between her and Heather as Mary tries to adhere to the tenets of her faith, and even tries to bend the family's will to her own. She is so certain in the rightness of the way in which she was raised that she cannot see things in any other way. She longs to be able to leave her foster home and go back to the cult.

Ms. Bardi handles Mary's faith and her confusion about her foster family with sympathy and awareness of adolescence. She also handles Heather's embarrassment at her foster sister's strange ways quite realistically. This book will make you think twice about the wisdom of suddenly pulling children from one environment into another without adequately preparing the children for the culture clash. And the book will make you respect Mary Fred who, even when she is confronted with the most irrefutable evidence of the perfidy of Fred, still struggles to find a way to maintain her faith and her beliefs.

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More The Book of Fred: A Novel reviews
review by . February 16, 2009
I amuse my grandchildren by calling everything "Fred", so my son bought this book for me because of the title. He thought that would give my grandchildren a good laugh.     Having read the book, I am happy that he gave it to me for I found it quite interesting, if a bit unusual. The story centers on Mary Fred, a young member of a religious cult that seems to name everyone some variation of "Fred" in honor of its founder, Fred Brown. Some problems with the authorities lead to …
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Dindy Robinson ()
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When 15-year-old Mary Fred Anderson's parents are charged with second-degree murder in the neglectful death of their son, Mary Fred is sent from the fundamentalist commune she's grown up in to the nearby Maryland suburbs and the foster care of a quirky 1990s family headed by librarian Alice Cullison, in this topical but uneven debut. A single mom, Alice lives with her brother, Roy, and her sullen 15-year-old daughter, Heather. Bardi has set up a high-concept collision involving several timely issues: cult religions and drugs (Roy spends his days working a scam that enables him to buy heroin, but Heather is too self-absorbed to notice and Alice too flummoxed). Despite the use of multiple narrators the novel is divided into the Book of Mary Fred, the Book of Alice, the Book of Roy and the Book of Heather characters are not fully developed because they are captive to the plot. (Bardi is good at interior dialogue, however, as when Heather muses, "I don't like anything about Sara. For one thing, she's very polite and self-confident and she talks to adults like she's their oldest friend.") The result is unsatisfactory ambiguity: Bardi wants us to take seriously the members of her cobbled-together family, but throws in a kitchen-sinkful of colorful secondary characters for comic effect; the Cullisons' neighbor Paula, for instance, is a postoperative transsexual heavily dependent on astrology. The contrast between the hardworking, literal-minded Mary Fred and the materialistic, ...
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ISBN-10: 0743411943
ISBN-13: 978-0743411943
Author: Abby Bardi
Publisher: Washington Square Press

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