The Book of Fred

Filled with soulful humor and quiet pathos, Abby Bardi 's boldly drawn first novel marks the débu of a joyfully talented chronicler of the quest for connection in contemporary life.
Mary Fred Anderson, raised in an isolated fundamentalist sect whose primary obsessions seem to involve an imminent Apocalypse and the propagation of the name " Fred, " is hardly your average fifteen-year-old. She has never watched TV, been to a supermarket, or even read much of anything beyond the inscrutable dogma laid out by the prophet Fred. But his is all before Mary Fred 's whole world tilts irrevocably on its axis: before her brothers, Fred and Freddie, take sick and pass on to the place the Reverend Thigpen calls " the World Beyond "; before Mama and Papa are escorted from the Fredian Outpost in police vans; and Mary Fred herself is uprooted and placed in foster care with the Cullison family. It is here, at Alice Cullison 's suburban home outside Washington, D.C., where everybod really changes -- for all parties involved.
Mary Fred 's new guardian, Alice, is a large-hearted librarian who, several years after her marriag, ca n't eem to shake her grief and anguish. Meanwhile, Alice 's daughter Heather, also known as Puffin, buries any hint of her own adolescent loneliness beneath an impenetrable armor of caustic sarcasm, studied apathy, and technicolor hair. And the enigmatic Uncle Roy is Alice 's perennially jobless and intensely private brother. As Mary Fred struggles to adap to the oddities of this alien world, from sordid daytime television and processed food to aromatherapy and transsexuality, she radually begins to have an unmistakable influence on the lives of her housemates. But when a horrifying act of violence shakes the foundations of Mary Fred 's fragile new family, she puts herself forced to flee, painfully, the very nature of the way she was raised.
With a knack for laying bare the absurdities of daily life, Abby Bardi captures, with grace and authority, all the mbivalence and emotional uncertainty at the heart of these uirky characters' awakenings.
Year of the Publication
Available Languages
Number of Pages
Original Title of the Book
The Book of Fred: A Novel
Publication Date
Published September 1st 2002 by Washington Square Press (first published August 28th 2001

Public Commentary

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rated it

Raised in th fundamentalist sect, Mary Fred is sent to live with an outside ( " Lacker ") foster family after her parents are incarcerate for second-degree murder ( Two of their kids died because they did n't provide medical treatment.) It ’ s clearly novel that relie on life within and/or escaping a sect, as The Chosen One does.

Instead, it ocuses on the characters—mainly Mary Fred as she goes about and adjusts to life “ outside, ” but also how her presence affects the family she lives with.

rated it

Explaine in alternating iewpoints, The Book of Fred is a coming-of-age story focused mainly on Mary Fred, moved to a foster home after her cultist parents ’ views on modern medicine cause two of her son to die of curable illnesses.

Recently, each viewpoint rarely introduced any new concepts ( except for Uncle Roy, whose chapter contains an interesting twist).

rated it

It was comforting to finally ead ook where the foster child actually has a good experience with the foster family AND the foster family falls in love with the child.

rated it

I did it because I 'm teaching a unit on " families " in my critical thinking class and I fel a brainwashed girl from a religious cult moving into a foster home would make for an interesting iscussion.

In thi secon we journey with Mary Fred from " The Outpost " ( where her parents have been arrested) to her new foster home.

nother reviewer tated that her only complaint was that she should n't believe Mary Fred would have been so " non-judgemental " of her " lacker " foster family and assimilate so quickly into the real world, because it migh ake more than a few days to undo 15 years of brainwashing.

rated it

With thi cover like tha, I expected some quirky, loveably odd book about ... I do n't believ ... fish?

Whatever.The book is about woman named Mary Fred.

Thi nove ends with Mary Fred and her many siblings being taken away from their parents as their parents are jaile for neglect after 2 of their children die.

beginnin of he book rovides some real suspense as Mary Fred 's mother is released and attempts to pu her to he new cult she has joined, but comes full circle back to the foster home that has officially become Mary Fred 's home.

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© Nicole Waggonner