Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons
“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.”
Ellen Foster is a coming of age story about a precocious 11 year old girl who is living in a dismal family situation – with a depressed mother and an alcoholic, abusive father – she narrates her life with a wisdom beyond her years. After her mother takes her own life, she is left alone with her father who can’t seem to be bothered to care for Ellen, let alone himself. Throughout her story, Ellen is bounced from home to home, all while feeling that nobody really loves her and only wanting a real family of her own.
I enjoyed reading this book quite a bit…Ellen’s voice is perfect as the narrator of her own life story. I love the fact that, at no point, does she wallow in self pity or desperation. Through all of the terrible things that happen to her, she remains so positive & hopeful and all the while keeping a very matter-of-fact view about her circumstances.
One thing that I found a bit challenging was the particular writing style of using no quotation marks and very little commas. I can only assume that since this is told in Ellen’s voice, the author was trying to highlight her poor, uneducated social class in the rural South. I just found it rather distracting…in the same way I found the lack of separate dialog distracting in The Road by Cormac McCarthy.
At only 126 pages, this reads more like a shorter novella rather than a full length novel. It’s a quick, fast paced read that doesn’t get overly depressing even though there are parts where you feel sad for Ellen and situation. The overall feeling is definitely one of hopeful positivity. Ellen Foster is a quick, easy & enjoyable read.
My Rating: 4/5 Stars