Excerpt from The Anybodies by N.E. Bode, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Anybodies

By N.E. Bode

The Anybodies
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Hardcover: May 2004,
    288 pages.
    Paperback: Sep 2005,
    288 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

A Flustered Nurse

Fern Drudger knew that her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Drudger, were dull.

Ridiculously dull.

Incredibly, tragically dull.

Mr. Drudger enjoyed discussing sod and lawn treatments. Mrs. Drudger collected advertising fliers that came in the mail, bargains on oil changes and mattress clearance sales. They gave Fern birthday gifts like a set of toothpicks or instruction manuals on how to build filing cabinets. They liked only dull things such as toasters (4), sponges (127), and refrigerator magnets (226)—and not those cute bunny shapes and such, but informative freebies from the plumber, the electrician and many from the firm where they worked, Beige & Beige. The Drudgers were both accountants. They didn’t like to take vacations from Beige & Beige, but didn’t want to cause a stir by not taking them either. So they loaded up the station wagon each summer and went to a place called Lost Lake. There was no lake, only the murky impression of one from years past. In heavy rains, it became muddy enough to attract mosquitos. And here Fern would suffer, listening to her parents take turns reading their manuals while she sipped bland lemonade (not sweet or sour) and swatted her bitten ankles.

Fern was not dull. (Children usually aren’t. They can be a lot of unpleasant things, including nose-picky and stinky, but they are not usually dull. Although there are exceptions—Mr. and Mrs. Drudger, I’m sorry to say, were never interesting. They were the kind of exceptionally boring children who enjoyed putting their toys in rows and keeping their pencils sharp. When feeling wild, they might have hummed, but that was about it.) However, Fern was not only not dull, she was, in fact, quite unusual.

Here are some examples: as a toddler—her earliest memory—Fern had once looked at a picture book about crickets, and every time she opened the book, crickets hopped out. She filled her room with crickets. She thought this would make her mother happy, but when she showed her, the tidy woman had a frozen look of horror. Nothing ever popped out of another one of Fern’s picture books. And when Fern had just learned to read, she caught snow in her mittens and the snow turned into pieces of paper with a word on each piece. She took them to her bedroom and laid them out on her desk, arranging and rearranging them until they made a sentence: Things aren’t always what they seem, are they?

When Fern woke up in the morning, the pieces of paper were gone. In their place, there was only a row of beaded water drops.

She’d once seen a perfectly good climbing tree that, on second glance, was really a very tall nun with thick ankles carrying a big, black, half-dented umbrella. Fern, alone, hid behind a big mail box and watched the nun walk to the curb, glancing up and down the street as if lost. A taxi cab rounded the corner and the nun, who seemed befuddled and a little nervous, turned into a lamppost. It was an ordinary lamppost with a loose dented umbrella kicking around it. Fern said, "Hello? Hello?" like you do when you pick up the phone but nobody’s there. "Hello?" Fern waited. Nothing happened. So, she picked up the umbrella, a little dazed, and shuffled quickly to her house.

More recently, during the spring before the summer that I’m getting to—if you’re patient!—Fern had arrived early for swimming lessons at the YWCA’s indoor swimming pool and had watched her brand-new swim teacher, Mrs. Lilliopole, run after a small bat flitting madly over the bleachers. Mrs. Lilliopole jogged after it, chubby and awkward, wearing a skirted swimsuit, a plastic nose-pinch, and a flowered bathing cap. She waved a net used for cleaning the pool. The bat rose up to the glass skylight and then turned into a marble, dropping to the tiled floor before rolling quickly under the door to the men’s locker room.

From The Anybodies by N.E. Bode.  Copyright © 2004 by Julianna Baggott.  All rights reserved.  Reproduced by permission of HarperCollins Publishers

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
Sign up, win books!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: A Man Called Ove
    A Man Called Ove
    by Fredrik Backman
    Reading A Man Called Ove was like having Christmas arrive early. Set in Sweden, this debut novel is ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Search
    by Geoff Dyer
    All hail the independent publisher! In May 2014, Graywolf Press brought two of long-revered British ...
  • Book Jacket
    Mrs. Hemingway
    by Naomi Wood
    Naomi Wood's latest novel, Mrs. Hemingway, is a fictionalized biography covering in turn writer...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The Arsonist
by Sue Miller

Published Jun. 2014

Join the discussion!

  1.  103Tomlinson Hill:
    Chris Tomlinson
  2.  167The City:
    Dean Koontz

All Discussions

Win this book!
Win The Angel of Losses

The Angel of Losses

"Family saga, mystery, and myth intersect in Feldman's debut novel." - Booklist


Word Play

Solve this clue:

E C H A Silver L

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.