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The Book of Fred by Abby Bardi
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The Book of Fred (2001)

by Abby Bardi

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2101087,829 (3.75)1 / 9
Raised in a fundamentalist sect, 15-year-old Mary Fred Anderson has never watched TV, been to a supermarket, or read anything beyond the inscrutable dogma of the prophet Fred. When her parents are jailed, Mary Fred is put into foster care in a Washington, D.C. suburb. As she struggles to understand the modern world, Mary Fred begins to positively influence her troubled housemates.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
Excellent YA novel. ( )
  AnnAnderson | Jun 25, 2016 |
The story of a foster child, Mary Fred, and the effect she has on her foster family. Four sections of this book are told from the point of view of a different person, each section having some overlap but mainly carrying the action forward. The final section is again told from Mary Fred's POV and brings it all through a crisis to a happy ending.
Because so much of the book is from the POV of the 2 teens, it was obviously written for YA however I'm not sure how interested that audience would be in the chapter told by the mother and all her thoughts about her ex-husband. Fairly stereotypical characters: petulant teen, slacker uncle. Mary Fred is the different one, having been raised in an apocalyptic religious community which believed in the millenial end of the world (the "Big Cat:)--tho that whole group is also stereotyped. We do see some character changes in Mary Fred and Heather, tho I'm not sure I would call it real growth, and Roy's conversion is unbelievable even tho welcome.
I picked up this book because I have a brother Fred, who always has jokes about his name & is somewhat of a religious fanatic. Maybe I'll pass it on to some of the teens in the family so they can carry forth with new jokes. ( )
  juniperSun | May 12, 2015 |
I really like this book- even more than I expected, actually. 15-year-old Mary Fred is taken into foster care while her parents, members of a religious cult, are tried for the wrongful deaths of her brothers. Having lived on "The Compound" and "The Outpost" all her life, Mary Fred is totally unprepared for the real world. Alice, her foster mother, is a mousy librarian who never got over her divorce from the father of Heather, her blue-haired rebel daughter. Heather also still struggles with her parents' divorce and hides behind an angry facade in order to cope. Add Alice's reclusive younger brother, Roy, into the mix and you get a rather unusual foster family for Mary Fred.
Because she has never been allowed to watch TV, read books or newspapers, visit restaurants or stores, or wear any color other than brown, Mary Fred is lost in her new world. At first, Alice, Heather, and Roy are too lost in themselves to take much notice. Slowly, however, the four lost individuals come together and form their own family. When tragedy strikes, they slowly begin to come to terms with themselves.
When Mary Fred's mother returns from prison and attempts to reclaim Mary Fred into the cult, Mary Fred has to make a life changing decision.
I won't include spoilers, but this is not one of those predictable books where you pretty much know the ending from the beginning. It kept me guessing. Set against the backdrop of the doomsday predictions of Y2K, this book is an excellent character study, told in turns through the eyes of Mary Fred, Alice, Heather, and Roy. I was drawn to Mary Fred and her innocence. Bardi has drawn well-rounded characters- human and lovable, yet flawed. I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I highly recommend it.

Read this novel if...
...you enjoy modern fiction
...you enjoy stories about family
...you are intrigued by religious cults and their followers ( )
  smartchiksread | Jan 18, 2014 |
Mary Fred, age 15, is removed from her parents care after her brothers die from treatable illnesses. They are part of a cult-like “compound” that believes in prayer over modern medicine. Her foster family consists of Alice, Alice’s brother “Uncle Roy” and Alice’s daughter, Heather, who is also 16. All are initially disconcerted by Mary Fred, her odd religion and her work ethic, but as she eases into the family and begins to experience the outside world, all are changed and improved by the situation.
The story is separated into five books, the first four narrated in first person by Mary Fred, Alice, Heather and then Roy. The last is from Mary Fred’s perspective again. Bardi has done a fantastic job giving each of the narrators an individual voice and a different and fascinating point of view on the situation. It also seems as though a lot of thought was given to what portions of the story should be told from which perspective, as Mary Fred’s awakening seems to mirror and enhance what the other family member is discovering about him or herself. The novel is beautifully written, with excellent pacing. For example, more information is revealed to the reader about Mary Fred’s “religion” as she herself reveals it to her new family. Ultimately, the novel becomes more about family than about religion, as each person discovers what the concept means to them and how one knows where one’s true home is.
This would be an excellent book for a book club as it invites discussion of these themes – religion, family, motherhood, purpose – and each person reading it is likely to draw something different from the story. ( )
1 vote EmScape | Jan 30, 2013 |
Shopping can save the world. ( )
  picardyrose | Apr 6, 2011 |
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for Tony, Andy, and Ariel
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When Little Freddie took sick, I knew things would change and change fast.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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