2000: Bud, Not Buddy (everybody’s got daddy issues)

VERDICT: Treasure

Sally’s Rating: 4/5

Bud, Not Buddy drops you right in the middle of the Great Depression as it follows a young boy who runs away from his foster home in search of a father he has never met.

The Depression era sets the backdrop for this novel as Buddy runs into several things that relate to the time period – trying to hop on a train, listening to jazz music and a love for ‘30s baseball teams. It was fun to read about this specific time period through the eyes of a young boy who is really seeing the world for the first time. While he is hardly a sheltered kid, his wonderment and awe at seeing new things and meeting new people is very admirable and makes him an enjoyable protagonist.

Buddy’s point of view captures a kid’s confusion at why things happen in the world. He felt very true to life as he tries to make sense of the world. He doesn’t blame others for what has happened to him; instead, he tries to make do with what he has been given. Buddy is a realistic hero that never gives up and perseveres through the bad stuff that happens to him.

This is definitely an example of a book wherein the plot sets up the character’s beats – for better or worse. It’s always irritating when things could have been solved much more quickly had people actually talked to each other instead of omitting facts, which happens very frequently in this novel. At the end, when Buddy thinks he has found his father, a lot of the angst could have been glossed over if he had mentioned his mother’s name and showed everyone her photograph. Unfortunately, the book gets a bit sticky at this point and becomes fairly predictable as everything gets tied up nicely in a bow after all the conflict has passed.

Christopher Paul Curtis’ Bud, Not Buddy is a fantastic way to learn about the Depression era through a young boy’s voice, and it may appeal to reluctant readers of historical fiction. I found Bud, Not Buddy to be a charming and humorous adventure. It doesn’t seek to be much more than an adventure tale about a boy looking for his long lost father, and the author showcases a hero with admirable qualities – a hardened boy with years of abuse from foster homes who still has an idealistic dream of family.


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