Sunday, February 23, 2014

Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis

This story is about Bud Caldwell, a twelve-year old orphan who runs away from his most recent foster family.  Bud travels across his home state of Michigan during the Great Depression in a search for his long-lost family.   He meets a musician who he thinks might be his father, and falls in with the man’s traveling band.  Out on the road, Bud has time to explore his family tree, and discover how little he actually knows about his roots.

This book has not only has an amazing plot, but it also has one of the most interesting settings.  Our lives today are so comfortable that it’s very easy to forget about how things were just a few generations ago.  Mr. Curtis does an excellent job of describing life during the Depression, especially the “Hoovervilles” and the conflicts between labor organizers and security men.  I can’t imagine a life where I didn’t know where I was heading next, or where my next meal was coming from.

My favorite part of this book was actually the author’s notes at the end, where Mr. Curtis wrote about how his own family influenced the story.  His relatives were the inspiration for two of the main characters, and their stories undoubtedly helped him produce such a realistic description of the era.  Mr. Curtis suggested that readers should take the time to listen to their own family members, in order to get a first-person account of history.

What do you think about his advice?  What do you know about how your parents or your grandparents grew up?  Is there anything that you don’t know about them, but might like to learn?

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