Nina's Reading Blog

Comments on books I am reading/listening to

Ellen Foster

Posted by nliakos on September 3, 2007

by Kaye Gibbons (Vintage Contemporaries, 1987, 1990)

Recommended strongly by a friend, this is a first-person  fictional narration about a girl growing up abused and escaping from the abuse.  Ellen’s mother dies, leaving Ellen in the care of an alcoholic, abusive father.  It takes a while, but Ellen manages to remove herself from her father’s house.  She identifies a good foster home and sets about moving in, even taking the name Foster.  Throughout the book, her concept of racial equality, as seen in the person of her friend Starletta, develops until she understands that there is no reason to look down on Starletta and her family because of their race.

The narration is written in southern dialect and as if written by a child.

I liked the book well enough, so I checked out its sequel, The Life All Around me by Ellen Foster, published by Harcourt in 2006, which tells the story of how Ellen manages to get herself educated at Harvard University.  Here, however, I lost patience with both Ellen and her story, and did not finish the book.

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