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The Life All Around Me By Ellen Foster

3.17  ·  Rating details ·  1,551 ratings  ·  200 reviews
The cynical view of Kaye Gibbons's The Life All Around Me by Ellen Foster would be that the Poor Little Match Girl has morphed into Cinderella. Ellen Foster, a book anointed by Oprah's Book Club®, was the tale of young Ellen, daughter of a neurasthenic twit of a mother and a drunken abusive father, who was tossed out of her wicked aunt's home on Christmas Day (Shades of Di ...more
Kindle Edition, 240 pages
Published November 6th 2006 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published 2005)
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Sep 26, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I've decided that life is too short to read books I just can't get into. I have stacks of books I'm dying to start, so why plod through 250 pages of characters I cannot connect with, or writing that I stumble over.

I am sure this is a fine book, but the author's style is just one I cannot follow -- lots of first person narrative with sentences that just ramble on and on. yes, I know that is the style of the character, but i just don't have patience for it.
Mar 01, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those with an exceptionally great attention span.
Shelves: waste-of-time
It was very difficult for me to stick with this book (and so I did not). I have given up trying to finish it. The writing style, in it's attempt to be unique, killed the book. In my frustration I actually felt like throwing it across the room...and I'm not the throwing type.
Apr 10, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This one shows the more flawed version of Ellen Foster. The first book showed the bigger than life Ellen Foster. Still liked it but hard to beat the first book. Glad the excerpt from the mother was included, silver lining.
Nov 30, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, library
Let me start out by saying this.

This book is the sequel to Kaye Gibbons’s 1987 novel and 1997 Oprah’s Book Club pick Ellen Foster, which I absolutely loved and reviewed here and named as one of my best reads of 2008. (It took me awhile to get to it, despite it being on my TBR shelf for 11 years.) I adored Ellen Foster. So, naturally, you would think (as I did) that I would fall just as much in love with this one.

Not. Even. Close.

I had a hell of a time trying to follow this book, which picks up w
Sep 29, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
#3 01/07/06
GENRE/PUB DATE/# OF PGS: Fiction, 2005, 218 pgs
CHARACTERS: Ellen Foster, 15 yrs old
TIME/PLACE: 1975,small town in NC
COMMENTS: Very disappointing, I have loved some of Gibbons other books (Charms for the Easy Life, etc.) Maybe I never read Ellen Foster, can't remember. Ellen is now 15 and living a stable life w/ her guardian, Laura. The book starts out OK w/ a letter from Laura to the president of Harvard, r
Karen Germain
Dec 06, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not sure that this book should even get one star.

This book came to me through another bookcrosser and I felt compelled to finish it. It was short. If it had not been short, I would have given up on it early.

I guess my main problem was the writing style. I couldn't connect to it on any level. The main character was irritating. The plot meandered...not in a good way. I simply didn't like this book.
Nov 26, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Would recommend: No, and I'm really sad about it

I am so disappointed in this book. I loved Ellen Foster SO MUCH, and I recommend that book all over the place, so when I saw this sequel at the used book store, I snatched it up right away. This book was so disorienting. The stream of consciousness that was so honest and interesting before was a jolt all the way through this time around. I couldn't keep anyone straight, and I felt like Ellen's affect was so flat. Other than a few sparkling, poignan
Jun 02, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017
Dec 17, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I tried to read this book, but it was a rambling mess. Kaye Gibbons is Bipolar and I’m wondering if this is the reason this book rambles. So many books, so little time...I’m moving on to my next read!
Nov 21, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Hmmm. I don't like the idea of some sequels. If it's not a series-type book, then shouldn't it just be a book? No need for a sequel to Pride & Prejudice, or The Time Traveler's Wife, or most novels.
Yes, some books end in a way that you are left wondering what happens next, but that is just the way stories go. Just because you could write another book about those characters, does not mean you should.
If you do it, it better be good.
This was not.
It wasn't horrible, but it definitely wasn't goo
Oct 07, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009-reads
One of my very favorite books EVER is Ellen Foster. As a matter of fact, a few years ago, when a local theater group did a dramatization of it, I nearly didn't go, even though we had season tickets, because I didn't want it to be ruined for me. Fortunately, it was extremely well done, and when I talked to the guy who had done the adaptation afterwards, he said that he knew it had to be true to the book, since so many people he knew were dedicated to it.

Anyway, this book picks up Ellen's life aft
Lora Elisabeth
Jul 17, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
The writing style of this book was even harder to decipher than the first book, Ellen Foster, so I stopped reading after about page 30.

However, I did FINALLY find out when the first book took place as this book plainly revealed the year. I spent the whole time reading Ellen Foster wondering, "What time period is this?!"

I really wanted to like these books, but the confusing writing style ruined it for me. I've read many books written in different dialects and have never had a hard time understand
I have never been so happy to finish a book, especially one this short. It's been some time since I read Ellen Foster but I remember liking it A LOT and remember Ellen as being ... endearing (I was also a big fan of Kaye Gibbons' A Virtuous Woman). The Ellen in this book is flat and emotionless, the story disjointed. Very disappointed. Worth skipping entirely.
May 10, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I found the writing and dialogue style very difficult to follow. There's a reason writers use quotation marks, and it's to help demarcate spoken vs. internal dialogue. The whole book just left me feeling very...unsatisfied.
Anne Marie
Jan 20, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I wasn’t sure if I should give this book one or two stars. It was definitely not as good as the first book, Ellen Foster. I think the author should have left the first book be as it was. My biggest complaint about this second book is the way the author writes. I know this is Ellen writing the book from her point of view, but most of it didn’t make sense. It was like I had to get the main theme out of each chapter to know what was going on. Then read aimlessly the other parts.
Ellen is now 15 and
Feb 07, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: not-a-fan
This sequel to "Ellen Foster" stunk. I am not usually so harsh but it read like a first draft. I just finished "Ellen Foster", which was witty, sardonic and sharp. Then, I pick up this clunker and I scratched my head. It started well, then diverts and rambles into various directions and for me, I kept thinking did I miss something? No, just the opportunity to spend my time elsewhere.

I can't fathom why this book fell so far short. Kaye Gibbons proved a worthy writer in "Ellen Foster" but now one
Dec 19, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: angsty
In a certain time, place, era, age a book or character creates a masterpiece. Something that nothing else can ever compare to ever again. It shines so bright nothing can dull it's beauty. But Because a place changes, people grow up, an era is gone, circumstances change, or its a continuance of a story you have already read. The second book cannot compare to or compete for the first book Ellen Foster.
This sequel to "Ellen Foster" is written from the viewpoint of Ellen herself. Because it's written in a stream of consciousness way with long sentences, I found myself reading fast, as if she was speaking it to me all in a rush. I had to keep telling myself to slow down and enjoy it. It tells of her life at 15 and gives some insight into growing up, her family, and at long-last, her mother. It's a funny and touching tale that grips your heart.
Jun 14, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think I've been reading too many adult novels from the perspective of a child lately. I still think Kaye Gibbons is a great author, but this story didn't move me as much as others she has written. About a very smart girl with extremely limited experience and resources, trying to figure out how to continue to grow in her small town environment.
Sandra Firrito
I just couldn’t read this book. I forced myself to pick up speed on it since I work with foster children and felt that the book would be compelling to read. I’m sorry that I couldn’t finish it. I just had a hard time with the flow of the writing and it just didn’t hold my interest long enough to get through what I thought would be a quick read.
Jun 20, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The original "Ellen Foster" was a favorite and this just didn't meet my expectations. I liked it but the story was difficult to follow and there were places were I felt the authors was speeding along throwing out dialogue just to get it out in case she didn't get another chance. It was an easy and fast read - entertaining but just not great.
Mariela Oleson
May 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

The book was well written. The prose was interesting and flowed like a brook , at times like a river and even the sea at high tide.
I found Ellen Foster's story to be moving and challenging. Full of woe and challenges she found hope and happiness. Absolutely loved it!
Tom Brown
All I will say is that it was not as good as Ellen Foster. I enjoyed the book but I thought it rambled a bit at times and I had trouble following the story.
Sep 13, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The author's style was difficult to follow, otherwise the book is interesting.
Donna Zigmont
I loved the first book. This one not so much. Hard for me to get into the story and stay focused. What a disappointment. I really looked forward to reading this book.
Jun 16, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I wish I'd just remembered Ellen Foster as I knew her at the end of the first book.
I’m so sorry, I just couldn’t get into this book.
Oct 15, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Liked the first book so much more than this one.
Angela Davenport
Aug 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A little hard to follow but beautifully written. I love Ellen’s outlook on life and snippets of wisdom!
Not as good as Ellen Foster Am I anti-sequel? Probably. And, I still love her writing!
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Kaye Gibbons was born in 1960 in Nash County, North Carolina, on Bend of the River Road. She attended North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, studying American and English literature. At twenty-six years old, she wrote her first novel, Ellen Foster. Praised as an extraordinary debut, Eudora Welty said that "the honesty of thought and eye and feeling and ...more
“In closing, I hope everything helps show that I wouldn’t be a fade-out or a person who turns to think to drink or dope when things get tough. I believe that anything is possible if you have the combination of love for what you’re doing and the will to sit down and not get up until it’s done….” 2 likes
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