Modern fictional narrative

Point of View

The narrator speaks in the first person throughout the entirety of the novel and gives a subjective view of all other characters introduced.


Ellen's narration is consistently subjective and informal, as it is written in the language of an eleven year old who has grown up in the southern United States. Throughout the novel, Ellen employs colloquialisms, slang, and humor to tell her story.


Frequently shifts in tense from present to past; description of the past is being relayed in hindsight from the present.


Southern United States, probably North Carolina, in the mid to late 1970s


Just before her mother commits suicide, Ellen senses that a terrible storm is coming, which foretells the nightmarish abuse and trauma she is soon to suffer at the hands of her father and other relatives.

Major Conflict

Ellen continually suffers abuse by her neglectful caretakers and searches for a stable home and loving family.

Rising Action

Ellen is placed in a number of temporary homes, all of which are unhappy, and she longs for a home where she is loved and cared for.


Ellen is expelled from Nadine's home on Christmas day for being disrespectful.

Falling Action

Ellen is welcomed into her new mama's home and has at last found the loving family for which she has yearned and so deserves.