Ellen Foster is an undeniably captivating book that touches on many issues such as love, acceptance,racial relations, family, and identity. This book is strategically written and will make the reader reflect and ponder matters, even after finishing the reading. I enjoyed reading Ellen Foster immensely and would recommend it to anyone. This book is a coming of age story about a resilient eleven-year-old girl, Ellen Foster. The experiences she engages in are definitely not typical for a girl of her age: her parents and grandmother die in the story, she is poverty stricken, and abused. As a result, Ellen is forced to mature faster. She pays bills, goes grocery shops, and even reads "older" books in school, claiming, "I can hardly tolerate the stories we read for school. Cindy or Lou with the dog or cat." Ellen is also on a constant search for a home and family after her immediate family falls apart. When she finally finds a home with her teacher, she is taken away by the court and sent to live with her Grandmother, a bitter and heartless woman. Ellen's childhood seems to be full of these ups and downs such as this, but she always seems to make the best of the situation. Given the misfortunes in her childhood, her strength and independence really shine through, leaving the reader with hope and inspiration. Ellen Foster is also a book about social tribulations in our society. Set in the time of the civil rights movement, Ellen's character and her identity move with the movement. In the beginning of the novel, it is apparent that her family and society as a whole has an affect on how she views colored people. Even though her best friend, Starletta, is a black girl, Ellen still thinks of her as "dirty." She says, "As fond as I am of all three of them [Starletta and her parents] I do not think I could drink after them. I try to see what Starletta leaves on the lip of the bottle but I have never I try to see what Starletta leaves on the lip of the bottle but I have never seen anything with the naked eye." Ellen is ignorant and naïve^×a product of the society's prejudices. It is as if she takes what others say for granted. Later, though, she realizes that skin color does not matter and even says she would lick the glass Starletta drank from to prove her fondness towards her friend. Kaye Gibbons really captivates readers through the child narration style she writes in. Writing in this manner, with no commas, no quotations, gives the reader a sense of what and how Ellen is feeling and thinking. Gibbons uses this writing style and first person narration to focus more on how Ellen handles her situations through humor, instead of dwelling in misery and self-pity. The style of writing is almost in a stream of consciousness, especially because of the frequent switching of times- past and present. The best thing about this book is that you can actually "see" and experience first hand the transformation of Ellen's character with each encounter and event that takes place. I thought towards the end of the book, she even started to speak in an "older" manner. Ellen describes situations in a manner so matter-of-fact and naïve that even the most controversial ones seem innocent. At times, I had to read in between the lines to grasp the severity of events. The main characters in this book were well developed, in spite of the book being a bit short. I found myself either really liking the characters, such as her "new mama" and Julie and Roy, or really disliking the characters, such as her "mama's mama" and her father. The opinions I formedare definitely biased because the book is written in first person point of view. Ellen's character has been likened to Huck Finn's in that both are written from a child's perspective and highlight racial relations. Ellen's best friend is Starletta, an African American girl, and Huck's friend is Jim, a runaway slave. Both Ellen and Huck also lack parental roles, which is clearly impacted in the way they think and the maturity they are forced into. Ellen Foster serves as a heroic character in this book. She has strength, courage, never seems to pity herself, independence, and a matter of fact way of talking. The revelation Ellen comes to at the end of the novel epitomize her understanding of the world, but moreover exemplifies her maturity and humility. I would definitely recommend this novel to anyone. Ellen's spirit and innocent way of viewing the world never cease to amaze me, given the circumstances and traumatic experiences she goes through. She is truly an inspiration to us all.