Ellen Foster

By Kaye Gibbons,

Book cover of Ellen Foster

Book description

"Filled with lively humor, compassion, and intimacy."
—Alice Hoffman, The New York Times Book Review

"When I was little I would think of ways to kill my daddy." With that opening sentence we enter the childhood world of one of the most appealing young heroines in contemporary fiction. Her courage,…

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Why read it?

4 authors picked Ellen Foster as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

I saw this quirky little book on the “New Titles” table, “little” being the keyword. Algonquin published this short novel’s first edition in a smaller format, and I was, honestly, drawn to the size and to its evocative cover art—rumpled lines on an ornate cast iron bed. Inside I found feisty eleven-year-old Ellen, abused and ill-treated her family, abandoned to the foster care system. This wise and smart and funny narrator holds her next to the best talkers in all of literature. Among other things, Ellen (by way of Kaye Gibbons) taught me some of what I needed to know…

From David's list on kids with attitude.

Long ago, Oprah Winfrey chose this novel for her Book Club, and I’ve been a devoted fan ever since. Kaye Gibbons gives us one of the most loveable young protagonists I’ve ever seen on the page, a courageous and spunky girl who says what she means and means what she says. Gibbons not only offers Ellen’s heartbreaking story of abuse and neglect, but she delivers dashes of humor and a heartwarming ending that reminds us of the redemptive power of love. 

This is the book that, quite literally, launched my career as a novelist. I’ve always been an avid reader, and like many readers, I’m always on the hunt for the next “can’t put down” book. I read historical, horror, suspense, romance, autobiographies, non-fiction, you name it, I read it. It was only after reading Ellen Foster I discovered the sub-genre known as Southern fiction. I realized there were writers out there who were telling stories about my “world,” stories where people talked the way I did, appreciated and loved the things I did, had similar cultural experiences I had. Once…

From Donna's list on if you love Southern fiction.

The main character, Ellen, represents the candor behind how often children were passed around when there was no family to care for them, even if not in the foster system in the 1970s. I loved the emotions brought on by this story between Daddy and daughter, Ellen, even though readers might understand how she can have any type of sadness over his death. This novel’s theme is a humble reminder that our life’s story is often not the worst sad story out there and to have empathy for others. 

From Savannah's list on forgotten coming of age.

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