A REMARKABLE DEBUT: THE BOOK OF FRED touches on some contemporary themes -- including cults, foster care, and drugs -- with an amazingly light touch, wonderful writing, much heart, and characters one falls in love with. The Book of Fred, narrated by four quirky characters, tells the story of Mary Fred Anderson, a teenager from a rural fundamentalist sect who is placed in foster care in the Washington, D.C., suburbs with librarian Alice Cullison. As Mary Fred tries to adjust to the oddities of Alice's unemployed brother Roy, her 15-year-old daughter Heather, known as Puffin, and their weird friends and neighbors--transsexuals, Unitarians, and aromatherapists--she begins to have a subtle influence on the lives of those around her. Soon, Mary Fred is forced to question everything she has been raised to believe in, including the strange doctrines of the prophet Fred. When confronted with a series of apocalyptic events, Mary Fred must make some tough choices, and the powerful climax of the novel forces her to decide what a family really means. The Book of Fred is a dark, funny but also deeply serious examination of family values at the end of our century.
Abby Bardi was born and raised in Chicago. She attended Occidental College. She went on to get an M.A. in English from the University of Maryland, and in 1981, moved to Japan, with her then-husband, to teach. In 1984, she moved to England, where she spent six years also teaching English and occasionally singing both solo and in groups, In 1990, she returned to the Washington area, and in 1993, began teaching at Prince George's Community College, where she is now a tenured professor.