The Book of Fred

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Filled with soulful humor and quiet pathos, Abby Bardi's boldly drawn first novel marks the debut 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 this 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 everything really changes -- for all parties involved.
Mary Fred's new guardian, Alice, is a large-hearted librarian who, several years after her divorce, can't seem to shake her grief and loneliness. 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 adjust to the oddities of this alien world, from sordid daytime television and processed food to aromatherapy and transsexuality, she gradually 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 finds herself forced to confront, 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 ambivalence and emotional uncertainty at the heart of these quirky characters' awakenings.
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About the author

Abby Bardi born and raised in Chicago, has worked as a singing waitress in Washington, D.C., an English teacher in Japan and England, a performer on England's country-and-western circuit and in a musical duo called The 2 Bored Housewives, and most recently, as a tenured professor at Prince George's Community College. She lives in Ellicott City, Maryland.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Simon and Schuster
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Published on
Jan 27, 2002
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Pages
304
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ISBN
9780743424493
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Language
English
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Genres
Fiction / General
Fiction / Literary
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Heather O’Neill’s critically acclaimed debut novel, with a new introduction from the author to celebrate its ten-year anniversary

Baby, all of thirteen years old, is lost in the gangly, coltish moment between childhood and the strange pulls and temptations of the adult world. Her mother is dead; her father, Jules, is scarcely more than a child himself and is always on the lookout for his next score. Baby knows that “chocolate milk” is Jules’ slang for heroin and sees a lot more of that in her house than the real thing. But she takes vivid delight in the scrappy bits of happiness and beauty that find their way to her, and moves through the threat of the streets as if she’s been choreographed in a dance.

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Channeling the artlessly affecting voice of her thirteen-year-old heroine with extraordinary accuracy and power, Heather O’Neill’s debut novel blew readers away when it was first published ten years ago. Now it’s sure to capture its next decade of readers as Baby picks her pathway along the edge of the abyss to arrive at a place of redemption, and of love.

Featuring a new introduction from the author

CBC Canada reads winner, Paragraphe Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction winner, Orange Prize for Fiction finalist, Governor General’s Literary Award finalist, International Impac Dublin Literary Award finalist

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“A vivid portrait of life on skid row.”—People

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“ONE OF THE MOST VISIONARY, ORIGINAL, AND QUIETLY INFLUENTIAL WRITERS CURRENTLY WORKING”* returns with a sharply imagined follow-up to the New York Times bestselling novel The Peripheral.
 
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*The Boston Globe
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