"When I was little I would think of ways to kill my daddy. I would figure out this or that way and run it down through my head until it got easy." So begins the tale of Ellen Foster, the brave and engaging heroine of Kay Gibbons's first novel, which won the Sue Kaufman Prize from the American Academy of Institute of Arts and Letters. Wise, funny, affectionate, and true, Ellen Foster is, as Walker Percy called it, "The real thing. Which is to say, a lovely, sometimes heartwrenching novel. . . . [Ellen Foster] is as much a part of the backwoods South as a Faulkner character—and a good deal more endearing."
If one should never trust the person who has had a happy childhood, then Ellen Foster, the 11-year-old heroine of Kaye Gibbons's accomplished first novel, may be the most trustworthy character in recent fiction....In many ways this is an old-fashioned novel about traditional values and inherited prejudices, taking place in a South where too little has changed too slowly....What might have been grim, melodramatic material in the hands of a less talented author is instead filled with lively humor, compassion and intimacy. This short novel focuses on Ellen's strengths rather than her victimization, presenting a memorable heroine who rescues herself. -- New York Times