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Reviewed by Edith Wairimu for Readers' Favorite
The stories of tenants who lived in a building located in Buffalo, New York for the past one hundred and twenty years come alive in Frances R. Schmidt’s heart-warming historical fiction novel, Fred: Buffalo Building of Dreams. The novel is told through Fred’s voice who explores Buffalo and America’s history via the experiences of its tenants. Fred is a commercial building completed in 1900. The tenants who make the building their home arrive in New York in the hope of finding freedom from political, economic, and religious oppression. To Abigail, the first owner of the building, and many other tenants to come, Fred is a representation of freedom, financial stability, and hope. Alienated by her family, Abigail pays for the construction of Fred where she lives happily with her partner and child.
The story includes multiple themes. It revisits the past and compares it to the present. Freedom is a predominant theme in the novel. Other themes include tragedy, romance, and resilience. The characters and their backgrounds are fascinating. Patricia and Kathleen Duffy are Irish twins committed to the suffrage movement. Russian Jews Samuel and David work hard to establish a life for their families in America and become activists in the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America after experiencing heartbreaking loss, and Fred learns of the brutal treatment of African slaves through a tenant’s great-great-grandmother’s journals. The families also stand with and support each other through challenging times such as during the Great Depression and during different wars. Fred: Buffalo Building of Dreams by Frances R. Schmidt is a uniquely told, well-researched novel that recounts events in American history through the experiences of intriguing and brave characters.