[Bud, Not Buddy]: A Review

Hi y’all!

Hope you have had a great start to your week! We are ready for some real fall weather around here and I’ve started getting all the pumpkin decor and food out for the season. This is my favorite time of year!

Today I am really excited to share my review of Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis. This book won the Newbery Medal in 2000. I recently read this book with my sister for our summer buddy read list. I have heard a lot about this book but I don’t think I’ve ever actually read it until now. It is a very well deserved award winner and one I hope to read with my kids when they’re a bit older.

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According to Goodreads, “It’s 1936, in Flint, Michigan. Times may be hard, and ten-year-old Bud may be a motherless boy on the run, but Bud’s got a few things going for him:

He has his own suitcase full of special things.

He’s the author of Bud Caldwell’s Rules and Things for Having a Funner Life and Making a Better Liar Out of Yourself.

His momma never told him who his father was, but she left a clue: flyers advertising Herman E. Calloway and his famous band, the Dusky Devastators of the Depression!!!!!!

Bud’s got an idea that those flyers will lead him to his father. Once he decides to hit the road and find this mystery man, nothing can stop him–not hunger, not fear, not vampires, not even Herman E. Calloway himself.

Bud (not Buddy) is a great protagonist. I love how brave he is and how he never makes excuses for the hard things in his life. He knows his momma loved him and he doesn’t let people pick on him or give him a hard time. But wow does he have a lot of hard things in his life! Losing his mom and never knowing his dad, living in the Home, not being treated fairly at foster homes, trying to catch a train out west but losing his best friend, trying to walk to Grand Rapids and find his father, and all the people that don’t treat him well. I was amazed at how positive his outlook is and how easily he sees the good in his world. His rules for a funner life and to be a better liar are just delightful. I love all the lessons he’s picked up over the years and how they fit so well into his current story.

So many interesting and tough topics discussed in this novel. The setting in the Great Depression is fascinating as we see people start suffering more and more. The interactions in the Hooverville were very interesting as people want to help each other and believe in good things to come. The racism was interesting as black people were unable to hold many types of jobs or own property. But there are several characters like Lefty Lewis and Herman E Calloway that are successful and can take care of those they love. I was very intrigued by the ways race is woven into the story without feeling preachy or overbearing. It just feels important especially to treat everyone with respect. Also difficult issues like poor foster care, kids going hungry, losing a parent, and being on the lam (on the run).

I loved Curtis’ tone and storytelling. We really are right there with Bud as he fights his way out of the Amoses shed. We taste brown sugar on our oatmeal. We smell books and blankets and saxophone cases. The storytelling is so engaging and easy to get invested in. I wanted to know what happened to Bud from the first page. I love the descriptions of people and places as Bud experiences things for the first time. The descriptions of the jazz music and Bud’s reaction to it were my favorite parts. Also Bud’s first experience in a restaurant. The ending leaves so much hope and healing to come but also gives readers a satisfying glimpse of what can be for Bud.

While this was my first time reading this novel, I hope it isn’t my last. I loved this story of courage and sacrifice during the height of the Great Depression. The characters feel real and the storytelling is fantastic! I loved this story and hope to read more from Christopher Paul Curtis.

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Have you read any of Christopher Paul Curtis’ novels? Which are your favorites?
Which Great Depression set novels would you recommend?

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