Paperback eBook


ISBN: 978-1-61620-302-3

LIST PRICE: $13.95


ISBN: 978-1-61620-308-5

LIST PRICE: $13.95

“When I was little I would think of ways to kill my daddy.”

With that opening sentence we are introduced to the eleven-year-old heroine of Ellen Foster, a stunning novel by Kaye Gibbons. Ellen Foster tells her own story, with an honesty, a perceptivity, and quite unselfconscious heroism. Her mother dies. She stays with her father until it becomes too dangerous. She lives with a teacher, a grandmother who blames her for her father’s marriage, then with an aunt. At the close she discovers a home where at last she is wanted and loved.

Ellen Foster takes things as they come. She judges people shrewdly and well. Her ties with her black friend Starletta are beautifully revealed. Her own courage, her humor, and her wisdom are unforgettable. Kaye Gibbons’ first novel is one to be read over and over. The little girl’s absence of self-pity, her determination, and her gratitude to those who help her, make her a heroine who lives beyond the printed page. She takes a place in our hearts.

You will love Ellen Foster: Once you read it, it will be unforgettable.


Winner of the American Academy of Arts and Letters’ Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction and of the Ernest Hemingway Foundation’s Citation for Fiction



"The honesty of thought and eye and feeling and word!" --Eudora Welty

"A lovely, breathtaking, sometimes heart-wrenching first novel." --Walker Percy

"Filled with lively humor, compassion, and intimacy . . . Ellen Foster may be the most trustworthy character in recent fiction." --Alice Hoffman, The New York Times book Review

"The story of a redoubtable girl who overcomes adversity with humor, spunk, and determination . . . She is a terrific kid, and Ellen Foster is a terrific book." --Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post Book World

meet the author

gibbons_kaye Photo Credit: Burnie Batchelor

Kaye Gibbons was born in Nash County, North Carolina and attended Rocky Mount Senior High School, North Carolina State University, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her first novel, Ellen Foster, was awarded the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction of the American Academy and Institute of the Arts and Letters and a special citation from the Ernest Hemingway Foundation. She has been the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and was recently awarded the PEN/Revson Fellowship for A Cure for Dreams. She is writer-in-residence at the Library of North Carolina State University. She and her husband, Michael, and their three daughters Mary, Leslie and Louise, live in Raleigh.