Rainer Maria Rilke

"Live a while in these books, learn from them what seems to you worth learning, but above all love them. This love will be repaid you a thousand and a thousand times, and however your life may turn,-it will, I am certain of it, run through the fabric of your growth as one of the most important threads among all the threads of your experiences, disappointments, and joys."--Rainer Maia Rilke

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Monday, June 27, 2011

A Maestro at Work

Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons

Sometimes, too rarely, you find a book that just takes your breath away.  One that makes all other books seem as if they aren’t books at all, but practice runs.  Ellen Foster was that kind of book for me.
Ellen Foster is about a young girl in an abusive home.  Her mother overdoses, her alcoholic father alternately takes advantage of her or neglects her completely and she soon becomes a throw-away, wandering from one uncaring relative to another. 

This story is one that hit me like a load of concrete.  Told in the young main character’s point of view, it was startlingly realistic and painful and haunting.  There was something so uncomfortable about reading the story that I often had to put the book aside to wipe my tears away.  Watching Ellen’s life unfold is like watching a gruesome car accident—you can’t look away no matter how bad it is.  You can’t stop reading although you know the next paragraph will bring you certain heartbreak.  And yet, for all that, it is still a story of hope.
This is a book you don’t read so much as experience.  In my opinion, Gibbons is one of the top 3 female writers alive today (the others being Jan Karon and Melinda Haynes).  All of her books have moved me so deeply but this one was my favorite, if such a word can be applied to this experience.  Her prose is so beautiful that it is almost poetic.  She takes words and makes them do things I’ve never seen from other authors.  This story is told from the point of view of the young Ellen so it is hard to follow and read but that makes the story so much more powerful and painful.

If you’ve never read Kaye Gibbons before, treat yourself to a concert performed by a maestro.

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