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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Couldn't put it down. Short book though, so a quick read. Makes you want to read all the authors other work.
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.
The girl in this book is a tough little survivor and will make any problems you have seem like nothing. I am going to get the next one as soon as I find it.
I liked this book but it is not light reading. I thought she got this little girl's voice right on. It's an Oprah pick if that matters.
I was moved by the characters and the story. I thought it was well written and the subject is heartbreaking.
one of my favorite books ever! rates right up there with To Kill A Mockingbird!
in the same vane as bluest eye and night... short; but covers a lot with no wasting of even one word...
This was a simple book written in the first person. It was a quick read and I enjoyed it.
fantastic prose. first rate story-telling.
You will be completely absorbed in this book! Loved it.
I loved this book - it was amazing and I couldn't put it down. I subsequently searched for all Kay Gibbons' other books to devour after this one. You just lose yourself in her stories - fantastic!
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.
Sweet story of a young girl trying to find a family for herself in the foster care system. Quick read.
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.
This was a very good read.
This is a wonderful book told in a very unique perspective of a little girl. It's a must read!
If you like character driven novels this should please you, along with other novels by Kaye Gibbons. Was made into a good film, also.
An award winning novel of a young girl with Fetal alcohol syndrome.
I could not get into this book. Tried to read the second part too, but quickly put it down.
Heart-warming and somewhat heart-wrenching at the same time. Can't wait to read the sequel.
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.
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!!
A very sweet story with a message.
A poignant and touching story of a young girl. Recommended reading for any woman who grew up in the South.
Excellent Fast Pace book great read!
"Filled with lively humor, compassion and integrity"
good story...a very interesting book
A story of a girl growing up in an abusive household and her escape to foster homes
Beautifully written, but a very sad book. A typical choice of Oprah's book club.
This is a wonderful story. Sad, but insightful. Kaye Gibbons is authentic.
"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.
I really enjoy her books - they are old-fashioned and remind you of long ago days.
Books that tie in with each other are so fascinating, another super fast read.
I liked this book. It was a little hard to catch onto the language but it was interesting and thought provoking
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.
Took me a while to catch on to the writing style. Enjoyed the book.
This is a great little novel, funny and warm!!
Endearing perspective of a child
Read it for summer reading last year. Quick read, but plenty of depth.
As always, the author has outdone herself
This is a delightful story of a very plucky little girl, who rises above circumstances beyond her control and has you cheering from page 1.
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."
This is the story of a redoubtable girl who overcomes adversity with humor, spunk and determination. Kaye Gibbon's first novel is a work of considerable subtley and intellectual sophistication.
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.
SuperFANtabulos story Highly recommended. Oprah's book club selection a few years back, like 7 I was on matertinity leave w/my son when I bought this book.
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!
Book is cross listed with Book Crossing.
Loved this book....could not put it down!
I have yet to be disappointed by an Oprah's Book Club selection - this book was no exception.
This book was not near as good as all the hype promised it would be.
A novel bythe author of A Virtuous Woman
"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.
Another Oprah selection from her early book club years.
Oprah's Book Club favorite