Bud, Not Buddy, by Christopher Paul Curtis, is a winner of the John Newbery Medal and the Coretta Scott King award. The genre of this book is historical fiction and takes place in 1936 during The Great Depression, following the main character Bud Caldwell who is 10 years old and lives in Flint, Michigan.
Bud had been living in an orphanage since his mother died, so he is used to staying with different foster families and being returned. When he is suddenly told he will being staying with a new family, he is prepared. Soon after arriving with this new family, he starts receiving abuse from them and decides to escape Flint. Everywhere Bud goes he takes his suitcase with him. Inside this suitcase are all of his belongings, which consist of a blanket, some rocks, and three flyers for a band called “Herman E. Calloway and the Dusky Devastators of the Depression!!!!!!” When Bud starts to believe that the man on his flyer (Herman E. Calloway) is his father, he sets out on a journey to find him. As Bud goes on this journey he has many adventures and meets people who help him along the way.
In this story, the protagonist is Bud, and the antagonist is the environment. The book is set during The Great Depression when the stock market crashed and a lot of people lost their jobs. During this time, the country was very poor, and people would travel long distances to find work. This environment is very challenging for Bud since people were not very kind to children or black people. A part of The Great Depression were Hoovervilles (named for president Herbert Hoover) which were shantytowns built by the homeless out of scrap materials. Bud visits a Hooverville in the beginning of the book when he was thinking about taking a train to Chicago to find work. “It was a bunch of huts and shacks throwed together out of pieces of boxes and wood and cloth. The Amoses’ shed would’ve looked like a real fancy house here.” Even though Bud has to face all of these difficult situations, he just continues on with a positive attitude.
The theme I will focus on in this story is perseverance. This is a theme that is shown strongly throughout the book and is a huge characteristic of Bud. Ever since Bud was little, his mother used to always tell him that when one door closes another opens, and this is what has always kept him going. Even when Bud had just run away from the family who had treated him badly and he was sleeping outside under a tree, he still thought, “But now that I’m almost grown I see Momma wasn’t talking about doors opening to let ghosts into your bed-room, she meant doors like the door at the Home closing and leading to the door at the Amoses’ opening and the door in the shed opening leading to me sleeping under a tree getting ready to open the next door.”
I give this book 4 out of 5 stars because I felt like the ending of the story went by a little too fast. The story finishes at the climax, and it sort of felt like this dramatic scene just happened and then the story was over. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction and to people who like reading fast paced stories.
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