Title: The Anybodies
Author: N.E. Bode
Year Published: 2004
The Anybodies was brought to my attention by a friend when we were discussing another novel. (Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines, for the curious, which has very little to do with this other than the ability to pull things out of books.) The Anybodies is about a girl named Fern who discovers that the people she thought were her parents aren’t because she was swapped at birth. Her real father has come to collect her and swap the children back, and Fern learns all sorts of secrets about her past.
Her father tells her that her mother was an “Anybody” – somebody who could become anybody (or anything). Fern’s mother had been a natural, and had taught her father some of the secrets. She had owned a special book (The Art of Being an Anybody) and Fern’s father (the Bone) is worried about it falling into the Miser’s hands. He tells Fern that the Miser had been his best friend growing up, but that he had grown bitter when Fern’s mother had fallen in love with the Bone instead.
They end up at Fern’s grandmother’s house, a place full of books, where Fern learns the art of shaking items out of books while both her father and the Miser search for Fern’s mother’s book. While there, Fern learns about her mother and what the secret of The Art of Being an Anybody is.
My friend who told me about the book warned me that the narrator broke the fourth-wall quite often, and I found that quite distracting (but after I realized that I wasn’t learning anything really important in those tangents, I started skipping them and the book got much better). Some of the antics of the characters was a bit over-the-top, but not too out of place in a middle grade book.
I really enjoyed Fern – she was actually rather believable in her longing for a family and a place where she felt like she was at home, and she wasn’t overbearingly precocious.
3/5 pages, though I would personally take off another half page due to the narrator issue