Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons

A short, intense novel about 11 year old Ellen Foster (or that is what she calls herself) growing up in a severely dysfunctional family in Southern USA. Her poor mother dies in the beginning of the story and leaves Ellen with her mean, drunk and violent father. She also stays for a while with her aunt and cousin and finally her grandmother takes her in. But that is not necessarily a good thing, because grandma is one mean woman and there is no love lost between her and Ellen. When the grandmother dies, Ellen goes to live with a foster-family, which is the first time in her life she feels some love, but this also ends and she goes to a new foster-home, which is where she is as she is telling her story. She is happy there, at last, but what will the future hold for her? The above description may sound sentimental and too much, and even though the story is told with the voice of a child, the whole story is also so ironic and filled with dark humour. And that is what makes it bearable. Otherwise Ellen’s story would simply have been unbearable- Ellen’s only friend is a black girl, for whom Ellen will do anything, but in Southern USA some years back that wasn’t always the easiest thing. I was caught up in this book and could easily see all the humour, but it also made me a bit sad. Its a dark story for sure. Makes the reader think of the evil of mankind.

Lisa from Books and Cooks also reviewed Ellen Foster. Click here.