In this book, the entire background is tainted by a cult mentality and the side effects that come with it.
Cult mentality is pretty unusual, but not necessarily rare. Many individuals have the charm and persuasive abilities, and they use their abilities to create a following. Often, these individuals get very rich from the “donations” from their followers.
Often, those who have been pulled into a cult are unaware that there is anything wrong with their new lifestyle, or they become too afraid to speak against the leader and can’t find a way out. The leader is always present, and often he/she presents an anti-authority position. The leader will make disparaging remarks about the leaders of other groups (for example, a church leader or parental figure), and they identify themselves as a part of the congregation. Essentially, this is to build “trust” between the leader and the followers. All too often, though, there is punishment involved for anyone who speaks negatively about the cult leader, rules imposed, or activities.
This book follows the story of a young girl named Mary Fred (all children born in this cult must bear some form of their leader’s name: Fred). She is taken from her parents after they are imprisoned for child abuse. Basically, their son got sick and, instead of taking him to a doctor, they trusted the alleged powers of Fred to heal him. However, his illness killed him, and the parents were arrested. All of their other children, including Mary Fred, were placed into foster homes.
Mary Fred has difficulty fitting into her new home though. The family consists of a single mother, a teenaged daughter, and the mother’s brother. They are already a pretty broken home, and adding a new person into the mix makes things a little difficult. Mary Fred has particular difficulty connecting with the daughter, even though they are the same age and go to school together.
Through the story, you learn about how hard it can be to break away from one’s upbringing. Mary Fred was born to parents who already belonged to the cult, and she had no reason not to believe that everything from the Book of Fred was true. Many can relate to this kind of hardship, and it can often be a real test of character to renounce things we have been brought up believing.
There is a prediction, though, in the Book that soon there will be an apocalypse of sorts, and Mary Fred has some serious decisions to make before it happens.
The book was so odd between the so-called “teachings” of Fred that are interspersed throughout the story, and the main character has such an interesting point of view. As the book continues, the story is told from the perspective of all of the other main characters, which really rounds out the missing pieces, allowing the reader to learn things they would not have been privy to had the book solely been written from Mary Fred’s point of view.
I really love that the other characters are so broken, too. You get to experience a wide range of struggles and the effects of combining it all under one roof. By far, my favorite character is the uncle. He is a total mess, but he has a good heart. However, Mary Fred was very endearing, as well, and I looked forward to the times when the story was told from her point of view. She was so naive and trusting, and her determination is something to be admired.
For those who love strange books that don’t really fit into any category, this one’s for you.
Title: The Book of Fred
Author: Abby Bardi
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Get your copy here: The Book Of Fred on Amazon.com
Stephanie Constantino is a freelance writer and stay-at-home mommy extraordinaire. To read more from her, visit her blog at writefromtheheart01.wordpress.com
All photos are copyright Stephanie Constantino – 2014