The Book Nook

By: Madeleine Schwartz

The Book Nook is a bi-weekly column that reviews many different genres of literature in hopes of inspiring at least one student to read something other than their monotonous Twitter feed or boxed Mac and Cheese cooking instructions. 

Title: “Ellen Foster”
Author: Kaye Gibbons
Genre: Fiction

I know the first question I will be asked by my fellow peers regarding this column is why, just plain why? This is an obvious question that, in my mind, can be expanded into: why on earth do you want to write one book review, let alone many? Even more so, what makes you think anyone will read them?

While this is a good question, I believe that I have an even better response which is everyone can appreciate a good book. You don’t need to be an English major or even an avid reader to fall in love with a character or have a desire to be written into a story. A great book can make you lose track of time and transport the reader decades within seconds of cracking its spine. The Book Nook gives every student a chance to have more of these thrilling, out-of-body experiences.

If you slightly smiled, slowly nodded, or faintly agreed with any of the previous statements or even desperately want to prove me wrong, read on.

The book titled “Ellen Foster” written by Kaye Gibbons is narrated by an eleven year old Caucasian girl living in the South during the 1970s. The reader follows Ellen, the heroine, through a short few months of her life and all the challenges that she faces.

We learn of Ellen’s tumultuous childhood that revolves around her bouncing from one incompetent family member to the next. With no stable role model, Ellen has no one to rely on but herself and is forced to face things that no eleven year old should.

Furthermore, incidents involving illegal substances, abuse, and a sheer lack of love leaves an obvious mark on her story.

Although Ellen’s childhood is anything but nurturing, she is a brave and extremely intelligent girl. In times of hardship, Ellen only sees the positive side of a situation. She believes in her heart of hearts that there is a better life heading her way through all her troubles and to the reader’s disbelief, there actually is.

The reason this book has caught my attention is because it offers an inspiring vision of hope and strength that readers can use as they start the new year and semester. Regardless of where you were in your life as the 2015 year started, Ellen’s story makes you feel grateful for what you have. She makes once important goals and worries minuscule in comparison to what she has faced. At the same time, this story can shed light on things that were once taken for granted

Although no one would wish for Ellen’s life, her determinedness and fortitude is inspiring. The seemingly endless exams and assignments facing Manhattan’s students can make them forget how much they are capable of. “Ellen Foster” is a much needed reminder of the strength and commitment inside each of us and I would highly recommend it.