Ellen is an old woman in a child's body; her frail, unhappy mother dies, her abusive father alternately neglects her and makes advances on her, and she is shuttled from one uncaring relative's home to another before she finally takes matters into her own hands and finds herself a place to belong. There is something almost Dickensian about Ellen's tribulations; like Oliver Twist, David Copperfield or a host of other literary child heroes, Ellen is at the mercy of predatory adults, with only her own wit and courage--and the occasional kindness of others--to help her through. That she does, in fact, survive her childhood and even rise above it is the book's bittersweet victory.
Gripping. The reader should clear his head in order to follow the plain, yet complex progress of a young girl whose goal is to achieve a simple, normal childhood. Kaye Gibbons is by far one of today's serious authors, and her talent is demonstrated by this compelling story.
Well, I guess I am a dissenting voice because I did not like this book at all. I understand how important the message is, but the writing style and such just turned me off. I finished the book, but only because it was so short. Otherwise, I would have given up sooner. No more Kaye Gibbons for me.
I found this story to be very difficult to follow. I thought maybe I just wasn't "getting" it, so I put it down for a few weeks and tried again. I normally like Oprah picks, but there have been a few lately that leave me shrugging - this is at the top of that list!
If ;you like Kaye Gibbons~~~~~backwoods Southern with homegrown characters with homegrown philosophies, you will love this book. I did. Oprah did. It is a very short, very satisfying read. About 4 stars on this one.
Loved this book and got sucked into the rhythm of it right away. The narrator (child) has a unique voice and the story is so poignant, yet she relates everything in such a matter-of-fact, straightforward way, which is often the way that a young person deals with such circumstances; they just get through it. A quick read and you can see why this was an award winner.
Very engaging story -- I liked it so well, I listened to it twice. The narrator and author, Kaye Gibbons, has the perfect voice for reading the story. You believe you are really listening to Ellen Foster.
Eleven-year-old Ellen Foster is an old soul living inside the body of a youngster. She is wise, funny and courageous, taking things as they come; living her life with a remarkable bravery and heroism that is truly unforgettable. Describing herself as "old Ellen" - an appellation which is disturbingly accurate, considering how much Ellen has already gone through in her young life - she tells her own story with a poignancy, an honesty, a perceptivity, and a certain unselfconscious wit that is startling to find in one so young.
After her frail and unhappy mother dies, Ellen effectively considers herself an orphan. She still lives with her alcoholic father - who alternately neglects and abuses her - but only for a short period of time, until her situation becomes truly untenable. From that point on, Ellen is shuttled between the homes of various uncaring relatives - living for a time with a teacher, a grandmother who blames Ellen for her mother's marriage, then with an aunt.
Eventually, Ellen discovers a home where she is finally wanted; loved and treasured by her new family in a way she would never have believed was possible to experience ever again after her mother's passing. Ellen is a shrewd judge of character, developing friendships along the way that are lasting and heartfelt. She judges people shrewdly and well; bonding with a little girl named Starletta and the strength of those relationship ties are beautifully revealed throughout the story.
I must say that I found reading this book to be remarkably gripping; Ellen's life was harsh and tough and her story was heartbreakingly poignant. However, despite those first impressions, I still enjoyed this story immensely. Yes, I know this may sound unusual, but I generally do enjoy reading books with depressing themes. Ellen Foster: A Novel by Kaye Gibbons is just such a book; it was certainly worth an A+!
This is the kind of book they make you read in high school to help you learn about growing up. It's tiresome, repetitive, has a dreamy quality to it that makes the whole thing feel undefined. Sure, our heroine has a few cute quips and has a whimsical resourcefulness. But it doesn't sustain the book as a "good read" as far as I'm concerned. Or maybe I'm a lazy reader, considering how acclaimed the book seems to be. In any event, I can't recommend it.
An incredible read. I was impressed with the way Ms. Gibbons was able to reveal Ellen's high level of intelligence through her perception of life. I immediately looked up other books by this author and was thrilled to find a sequel! Can't wait for it to arrive!
Having suffered abuse and misfortune for much of her life, a young child searches for a better life and finally gets a break in the home of a loving woman with several foster children.
FROM THE PUBLISHER
'When I was little I would think of ways to kill my daddy. I would figure out this or that way and run it down and run it down through my head until it got easy.' So it begins the tale of Ellen Foster, the brave and engaging heroine of Kaye Gibbon's much acclaimed first Novel. The story of an eleven-year-old orphan, driven to desperation by some of the wickedest relatives in literary history, this is the story of her battle for survival. Wise, funny and affectionate.
Well now if this wasn't just one crazy ass story..I loved it from reading the first sentence and then it just sucked me in and I couldn't put it down. it's told in the narrative of Ellen's childish voice and that has quite the impact. I think that really makes this book unique and I'm shocked I never heard of it before finding it for .25 at my local Salvation Army store. I don't read much fiction but every so often one will catch my eye either by way of the cover or what I read on the back...and like I already said, that first sentence grabbed me.."When I was little I would think of ways to kill my daddy." Powerful, emotional story of a neglected, abused child who took on the world in her own way and survived. I loved it!!
How much can one little girl take? Quite a bit, when she's feisty and smart, fearless and determined. I loved discovering the meaning of the book's title. This trim and touching book was impossible to put down.
A very good easy read. In the style of a Virtuous Woman. "The story of a redoubtable girl who overcomes adversity with humor, spunk, and determination, Kaye Gibbons first novel is a work of considerable subtlety and intellectual sophistication. A terrific book" ~ Jonathon Yardley, Washington Post Book World. Taken from back of book.
A very quick read and worth it. It tells of the life of one little girl and the uncaring grown ups in her life. Told in the first person by the main caracter, she brushes past some very difficult subjects just enough to let you know what is going on but not enough to go into detail. A good book for pre-teens in that it shows the strength and resiliance of a person who has no control of her life but manages to take control of her own actions through it all.
Ellen Foster, by Kaye Gibbons pull you into the story with her opening sentence,
" When I was little I would think of ways to kill my daddy. I would figure out this or that way and run it down through my head until it got easy."
Ellen Foster is one of my favorite books, it is compelling, the voice of the narrator of a child who has suffered abuse, it is funny, and the language so simple and heartfelt that you can not help but to fall in love with the character and the story. It is a must read.
This is one of my very favorite books and has been loaned to all my reader friends and suggested to many others.
Told from the viewpoint of the little girl who was abused and impoverished. It is a very short read but a book that will stay with you a long time.
This book takes a look into one little girls life of disapointment. From relationship to relationship she is always finding herself unlovable, until that is she finds someone who changes all of that. The storyline is a little shaky, but overall it is a fantastic book detailing how it is possible to take life struggles and make yourself better because of it- no matter what age you are.
(From Publishers Weekly) The appealing, eponymous, 11-year-old orphan heroine of this Southern-focused debut survives appalling situations until she finds safe harbor in a good foster home. "Some readers will find the recital of Ellen's woes mawkishly sentimental," PW remarked, "but for others it may be a perfect summer read."
A first novel by Kaye Gibbons. The story of a redoubtable girl who overcomes adversity with humor, spunk and determination. A work of considerable subtetly and intellectual sophistication.. Filled with lively humor, compassion and integrity.
"When I was little I would think of ways to kill my Daddy. I would figure out this or that way and run it down through my head until it got easy." So begins the tail of Ellen Foster, The brave engaging heroin.
Amazing how she creates such believable characters. As Elisabeth Spencer said "Original, compelling, and frighteningly real, the voice of Ellen Foster makes the reader know her story in her own terms."
The first line of Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons reads: "When I was little I would think of ways to kill my daddy." Wow! Talk about a powerful hook! Eleven year old Ellen has been through more than any child should experience. Her father is alcoholic and abusive toward Ellen's mother. Ellen just about raises herself in this dysfunctional household, the "hero" in the alcoholic family. After her mother dies, she goes to live with her teacher and things would have been fine except her grandmother interferes and gets custody of her. The grandmother blames her for the death of her mother, grandma's daughter...as if the poor kid hasn't been through enough as it is. To add to the misery, grandma dies and Helen has to move on yet again, this time to an aunt that doesn't really want her. Ellen sets about finding herself a new family. She has a refreshing voice. I read that she has been compared to Holden Caulfield (Catcher in the Rye) but I wouldn't go that far. She's a lot more resourceful and "together" than Holden was, a truly admirable character. Now I want to read Gibbons' other books!
This was a wonderful book and very uplifting in spite of the really awful things that happened to this little girl through no fault of her own. The strength she exhibited under horrible circumstances would have been admirable in an adult and to be found in a child so young is almost beyond belief. She always made the best of any situation and her tender years were filled with experiences no child should ever have to endure. To say that she prevailed is an understatement. I loved this book. It was hard to put down.
"When I was little I would think of ways to kill my daddy. I would figure out this or that way and run it down through my head until it got easy."
So begins the tale of Ellen Foster, the brave and engaging heroine of Kaye Gibbons's first novel, which won the Sue Kaufman Prize from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. Wise, funny, affectionate and true, Ellen Foster is, as Walker Percy called it, "The real thing. Which is to say, a lovely, sometimes heart/wrenching novel...[Ellen Foster] is as much a part of the backwoods South as a Faulkner character and a good deal more endearing."
"When I was young, I would think of ways to kill my daddy." So begins Kaye Gibbon's debut novel, Ellen Foster, a powerful story told by the epononymous Ellen, an 11-year orphan whose violent father is responsible for her mother's suicide. Ellen is eventually taken out of her father's care and placed in a series of temporary homesâ"first with her grandmother, where she is made to toil in the fields as twisted payback for her father's brutality, and then with a neglectful aunt and her spoiled daughter, Dora. Told as a dual narrative, Ellen Foster follows the heroine's ordeals both chronologically and in reflection, and ends with her wish of a "new mama" fulfilled.