Young and na´ve 15 year-old Mary Fred Anderson is brought by a social worker named Diane to the home of Alice Cullison, a divorced middle-aged woman working as a school librarian while raising a teen aged daughter named Heather (also known as Puffin). Mary Fred has been placed in foster care because her fundamentalist parents were arrested in Frederick County Maryland after two of their sons died from a lack of medical attention to routine ailments. Mary Fred is named after the sect's long dead founder Fred Brown, as were her six siblings. The Cullison's house is in the Washington, DC metro area and is shared with Uncle Roy, Alice's younger unemployed brother.
The story, broken into several parts with each told from the perspective of the four principal characters, tells how Mary Fred's appearance into their home affects the lives of the three occupants. Alice becomes a more attentive mother and overcomes the stigma of her divorce years earlier, Heather learns to be more energetic and responsible by taking an interest in activities other than daytime television, while Roy reveals his secret heroin habit when Mary Fred is hospitalized after a horrible accident threatens her life. As the narrative unfolds it takes unexpected turns as everyone learns to be more open to the beliefs of others.
Mary Fred has conflicting emotions when her now paroled mother brings her to another sect in North Carolina. The new religion runs contrary to her previous religious teachings and it's leader demands sexual submission from the young girls under his guidance. She wants to please her mother and Cyrus the spiritual head of the sect but is apprehensive of what she is told is the approaching day of Armageddon.
This report prepared by David Fletcher
Mary Fred is a 15 year old who belongs to a small religious cult, the "Fredians." Her parents are arrested because her brother died of a curable disease; her cult did not believe in medical treatment.
Mary is sent to foster care, and is taken in by a dyfunctional family who teaches her about life outside the cult. She meets new people, learns many new things, and soon adapts to her new life.
This report prepared by Misie