Ellen Foster - 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." So begins the tale of Ellen Foster, the brave and engaging heroine of Kay Gibbons's first novel, which won the Sue Kaufman Prize from the American Academy of Institute of Arts and Letters. Wise, funny, affectionate, and true, Ellen Foster is, as Walker Percy called it, "The real thing. Which is to say, a lovely, sometimes heartwrenching novel. . . . [Ellen Foster] is as much a part of the backwoods South as a Faulkner character—and a good deal more endearing.

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This one was a pretty bleak read for the most part, though it had its "light at the end of the tunnel" moments, particularly around the end. Ellen is a young girl starting her teen years, growing up dirt poor in a house with an abusive father and a physically / mentally ill & emotionally distant mother. The mother dies and leaves Ellen with her sorry excuse for a father. Her father treats her little better than hired help. Ellen tries to live right by taking care of the house and going to school, but her father makes her efforts at a normal childhood exceedingly difficult. Thankfully, Ellen's best friend Starletta offers a sympathetic shoulder and a chance for Ellen to actually be a kid. 

 

This wasn't a bad read but I didn't love it. Could be because certain scenes hit a little close to home for me, as far as memories I tend to avoid. I definitely saw some of my old self in Ellen. 

 

I could lay here and read all night. I am not able to fall asleep without reading. You have that time when your brain has nothing constructive to do so it rambles. I fool my brain out of that by making it read until it shuts off. I just think it is best to do something right up until you fall asleep.

 

I haven't seen it, but I read that a movie was made of this book, starring Jena Malone.