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Ellen Foster School & Library Binding – Nov 1997

4.1 out of 5 stars 238 customer reviews

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School & Library Binding, Nov 1997
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Product Details

  • School & Library Binding: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Turtleback Books: A Division of Sanval (November 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0833525433
  • ISBN-13: 978-0833525437
  • Product Dimensions: 20.9 x 16.2 x 1.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 268 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars 238 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,414,548 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Amazon

Oprah Book Club® Selection, October 1997: Kaye Gibbons is a writer who brings a short story sensibility to her novels. Rather than take advantage of the novel's longer form to paint her visions in broad, sweeping strokes, Gibbons prefers to concentrate on just one corner of the canvas and only a few colors to produce her small masterpieces. In Gibbons's case, her canvas is the American South and her colors are all the shades of gray.

In Ellen Foster, the title character is an 11-year-old orphan who refers to herself as "old Ellen," an appellation that is disturbingly apt. 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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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."
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The conundrum---what to do? The book is told from the perspective of an eleven-year-old girl (think along the lines of Sue Monk Kidd's SECRET LIFE OF BEES). I was thinking, "Oh, no. Not again." But as usual the author handles the material expertly. But what do you do when the main character is the one telling the story, yet her grammar is terrible? Do you leave in the bad English, or do you clean it up and have the "realistic" element taken out? This is a difficult question, and a few authors get around this in various way---I'm thinking of THE BARK OF THE DOGWOOD with its precocious seven-year-old who spouts the Latin names for plants. So much for bad grammar. But in ELLEN FOSTER, that couldn't have been done. I only found this "realism" mildly distracting as the story itself is good. Read in one day, it was a not-too-emotional telling by a very talented author who deserves much more respect and admiration that she is getting. Also try her ON THE OCCASION which, I believe, is her best book.
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Format: Paperback
I recently read the book Ellen Foster. It is a book wrote by Kaye Gibbons told through the voice of the main character Ellen. It is a book that shows the realities of life and the things that many people have to endure but rarely speak of. Throughout the story she is moved from one home to the next and endures many hardships. It deals with such issues as physical and emotional abuse.
The book was very intriguing and made me want to keep reading. I also enjoyed the book because it is very true to life that many people experience. It made me believe that it could really have happened to someone. Or that Ellen could have been a real person. Another reason that I enjoyed the story was because it analyzed many things in her life and the situations that she was put in.
There were however, some things that were confusing in the book. The author left out small details that probaly could have helped me understand the book a little better, such as her age and the time period. Also in some parts the author would skip to a new scene leaving me confused. some of the time it was hard to keep up.
Overall I really enjoyed the book. The storyline was good and it was a very heart breaking book. I also taught many lessons. No matter how many bad things happend to Ellen she never fely sorry for herself.
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Format: Paperback
Ellen Foster is the story of a young girl whose life is far beyond difficult. Her mother commits suicide, her father is an abusive alcoholic, and her grandmother despises everything about her and treats unscrupulously. After the death of her grandmother, she takes her life and responsibilities into her own hands and finds herself a home with the "Foster family." Ellen is 11 years old when finally settles down in a secure household. In my mind, she is more heroic than any other 11 year old I know. Kaye Gibbons created a jewel when she wrote Ellen Foster. Something about Ellen and her enormous heart arouse feelings almost of guilt in the reader. Ellen's hardships make you thankful for all you have. Ellen was truly sweet girl, never intending any harm, but causing some. Reading about Ellen makes you feel like you've known her for years, and that everything she has experienced has happened to you in exactly the same way. You're own her side so much that you feel her opinions on every issue, and you long for the love and care she deserves. The book is refreshing, and uplifting because of the emotions you receive reading it.
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Format: Paperback
Kaye Gibbons, Ellen Foster (Vintage, 1987)
So I finished this novel coming up on two weeks ago now, and I've been letting it marinate. I don't normally do that; I try to write reviews within a couple of days to keep everything fresh in my head. But when I finished Ellen Foster, all the voice in my head said was "...I don't know...", so I figured it's get clearer as I spent some time mulling the book over. But here we are two weeks later, and when it comes right down to it, I still don't know.
I wasn't aware this was an Oprah book until I just started doing research for this review (about ten minutes ago), but it's easy to see why. Another entry in the Dysfunction Junction genre, but then, when has Southern fiction not aspired to that great community? Faulkner and McCullers are looking proudly down from heaven at their figurative grandchildren who carry on the tradition. And if this book were nothing more than a study in dysfunction, I'd be able to say 'great, it does its job, it's mercifully shorter than most of the tripe Oprah recommends, one of the few she's picked that can be recommended without reservation."
But therein lies the problem, Ellen Foster is not just a novel about familial dysfunction. Oh, don't get me wrong, all the good stuff is covered; alcoholic father with incestuous and pedophilic tendencies (and isn't it interesting how those features go together more and more in American dysfunction fiction?), teacher with a heart of gold who wants to save the kid but is enough of a maverick the school fires her, evil "stepmother" (not literally, in this case), redemption through the church, etc., etc. ad infinitum. And Gibbons handles it all with a deft enough touch that we can put aside the fact that we saw it all in the Brothers Grimm and sit back and enjoy the ride.
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