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Ellen Foster Book Report

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Author Biography

Kaye Gibbons was born in 1960 in Nash County, North Carolina. Growing up she loved to write. She graduated from Rocky Mount High School in 1978 and went on to the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.

While in college she wrote her first book, Ellen Foster, it was a huge success. Ellen Foster won the Sue Kaufinan Award for First Fiction from the Academy of Arts and Letters and many other awards. Also, it has recently been translated into many languages and gained recognition worldwide. She has written other books one being, A Virtuous Woman, which has also gained recognition.

Kaye Gibbons is married and has a daughter. They live in Raleigh, North Carolina. Besides writing she is working on her degree at UNC.

Setting and Atmosphere

The novel, Ellen Foster, takes place in a small town in the South. There are not very many people but the people that live there are very segregated and there is a lot of discrimination. The discrimination is one of the key points throughout the novel.

Ellen, the main character, travels between many houses within this little town. The first, is in a house where her, her mom, and her dad live together. Then she moves to a house with her teacher, then she moves in with her grandma, and then she moves in with her aunt and cousin. Finally, she moves in with her new


The novel is a story told by Ellen. Ellen is a smart and calm young girl. It is told in a manner that nothing major ever takes place but actually many important events happen. You would think that these events would effect a young girl much more than they affect Ellen. She tells each event calmly which makes the atmosphere very calm.

Main Characters

Ellen- Ellen is the main character and the narrator in the novel. She is a young white girl who lives in the South. She has a very difficult life. Her mother is fatally ill and eventually dies, her dad is an abusive drank and she hates him. Her family does not like her and she does not like them. Through all of this I believe she is a very strong girl and has had a very tough life.

Starletta- Starletta is Ellen\'s best friend. She is black and pretty. She is the same age as Ellen and they are great friends. She lives in a very loving family but they are very poor. They live in a one-room house but have good lives.

Ellen\'s Dad- Ellen\'s father is a horrible father and man. He is the worst thing to happen to Ellen. He is the one to blame for making Ellen\'s life a disaster. He is an abusive drunk and scares Ellen to death. He basically caused the death of Ellen\'s mother.

Julia- Julia is the art teacher from school. She takes in Ellen after Ellen\'s mother dies. She is married to a man named Roy. This \"family\" is the first bit of happiness Ellen has and finds out what a real family is like.

Ellen\'s Mama\'s Mama- She is Ellen\'s Grandma. She is a very evil and cruel woman. She hates life and everything associated with it. When Ellen goes to live there she is forced to go work in the fields and when her grandma gets sick she tends for her. When her grandma dies she leaves to go live with somebody else.

Nadine and Dora- This is actually two people but in can be considered one person. Nadine is Ellen\'s aunt and Dora is her daughter. They both think that they are perfect and they both believe that the world revolves around them. Ellen lives with them for a while until she yells at both of them and then she is kicked out.

Ellen\'s New Mama- Ellen\'s New Mama is a foster parent and raises orphaned children. Ellen moves in with her and she accepts Ellen with open arms. She is the best thing to happen to Ellen. She is very loving and caring.


This novel is a story told through the eyes of an eleven-year-old girl. The story is about events that took place in the past and events that are happening now. The girl is Ellen and all her point of views are very honest and innocent.

The story begins with her telling of when she was little and she gives us some background and then the story begins. Her father returns in the morning, hung over, and not remembering what happened the night before. Ellen hides from him and when he leaves she goes to lie next to her mother. She is dead but she still just lies there.

Then the story moves forward a year or two and Ellen is now with her new family and she decides she is going to ride the pony.

Then the scene switches back to her mom\'s funeral. She is with her Aunt Nadine and her cousin Dora. She hates both of them and discusses that for a while. Then at the funeral we meet her mama\'s mama. She calls Ellen\'s dad a bastard, and then storms out of the funeral home.

The next action she does is joining the girl scouts. Starletta\'s dad takes her to buy the uniform. After, Ellen gains most of the badges she quits. Then it was Christmas time. She goes shopping with Starletta and her family and buys presents for them and for herself. On Christmas she went over to Starletta\'s house for a while and exchanged presents and played.

Then we switch back to Ellen\'s new house and she is having fun. She is riding the pony and gardening.

Again we switch back and it is New Year\'s Eve Ellen is hiding because her father came in with a pack of colored men. She runs away to Starletta\'s and spent the night there. The next day she calls her aunt if she can stay there and her aunt says fine. Ellen stays with her for the weekend and then has to go back home. When she gets home she locks herself in her room.

At the first day of school her art teacher, Julia, notices a bruise on her arm. Julia decides that Ellen should come live with her. So she moves in with Julia and Roy and has a great time with them. It is her first being part of a loving \"family.\" Ellen stays there until spring then she must leave.

In the summer Ellen goes to stay in her mama\'s mama\'s house. She had a bad time there. She was forced to go work in the fields. Before this Ellen\'s father had died and while she was staying with her mama\'s mama she got sick. Just like her mother and father her grandma died.

Then we move forward to her with her new mama. She is talking about school and how she loves being with Starletta.



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