Kaye Gibbons' Ellen Foster

external image n183800.jpg
"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", begins the book Ellen Foster.

Eleven year old Ellen Foster's mother has just commited suicide and now she is left to live with her alcoholic and abusive father who isn't exactly fit to take care of her. He has abused her sexually, physically, and emotionally. Ellen is left to fend for herself. She tries to avoid her father as much as possible by spending most of her time at her best friend Starletta's house, but after awhile it is to much to bear. Teachers at school are now beginning to suspect something is not right. After considering all the possible solutions, Ellen is taken in by her school's art teacher, Julia, and her husband Roy. Ellen loves her new home. She wishes she could stay there forever, but deep down Ellen knows that her new home is not permanent.

Now Ellen's grandmother or her mama's mama as Ellen calls her, has started a lawsuit for custody of Ellen. Her grandmother wins custody and Ellen knows that this is not good news. Her grandmother is a cruel woman. Ellen spends the summer with her grandmother and while there her grandmother forces Ellen to work in her fields with the black servants. Ellen's grandmother hates Ellen's father and believes that Ellen is just like him. She blames Ellen for her mother's death. Ellen is miserable wih her grandmother. Soon after the trial Ellen's father dies due to an aneurysm for over excessive drinking. Her grandmother is angry when Ellen sheds a tear for him. Later on, Ellen's grandmother becomes ill and Ellen is forced to take care of her. Not long after her grgandmother dies and Ellen is left alone yet again.

After her grandmothers death, Ellen is sent to live with her aunt Nadine and her cousin Dora. Although they don't treat her quite as bad as her grandmother or father, they still do not treat her well. She often has her dreams crushed and heart broken by her aunt and cousin who don't really care about anyone except themselves. Ellen does not have much money to spare so instead she paints Nadine and Dora a picture of cats. They're not at all grateful for her present and it is then that Ellen realizes she does not belong. That day she packs up her box and goes to the the Foster lady's house. Ellen offers her all her money, one hundred and sixty six dollars, to the Foster Lady so that she will take her in. The Foster Lady does not take her money, but welcomes Ellen in and tells her they will call the county to take about Ellen's adoption. The county grants the Foster Lady permission for Ellen's adoption. Ellen has finally found a happy ending and she now has a new mama who loves her.

I would definately recommend this book to anyone interested in family oriented stories. Kaye Gibbons' describes the situation very well. The details help you connect with the main character, Ellen. I loved the book and I am excited to read some of Kaye Gibbons' other books.

external image gibbons_large.jpgKaye Gibbons was born on May 5, 1960 in Nash County, North Carolina. She went to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She now lives in Raleigh, North Carolina with her husband and three daughters. In 1987 her debut, Ellen Foster, was released. Ellen Foster was awarded the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction of the American Academy and Institute of the Arts and Letters and a special citation from the Ernest Hemingway Foundation. Since writing Ellen Foster Gibbons has written seven other books. A Virtuous Woman (1989), A Cure for Dreams (1991), Charms for the Easy Life (1993), Sights Unseen (1995), On the Occasion of My Last Afternoon (1998), Divining Women (2004), and her lastest, a sequel to Ellen Foster, The Life All Around Me by Ellen Foster (2006). In 1998 Ellen Foster and A Virtuous Woman were selected for Oprah's Book Club.

This is the music video for Martina McBride's song Concrete Angel.
It tells the story of a little girl getting abused by her mother. Her mother
has a drinking problem just like Ellen's father does. I think it relates
to the story of Ellen Foster very well.

Works Cited: