Mr. Kurz Per. 1
The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson is a realistic fiction novel that begins in Thompson Park, Maryland in the 1970s. Gilly, the main character, is a smart but very violent girl who is motivated to find her mother. She has been moving around as a foster child for eight years and tries to sabotage every relationship she has. Trotter, Gilly’s new foster mother, is a loving, caring person, but Gilly does not want to have anything to do with her. Two of her other disappointments at Trotter’s are her new foster brother, W.E., who she thinks may be retarded, and her blind neighbor, Mr. Randolph, who happens to be black. Slowly, throughout the book, Gilly’s feelings begin to change.
After receiving a letter from Courtney, Gilly writes a letter back to her mother with false information exaggerating how unhappy she was at Trotter’s. She hopes this letter will re-unite her with Courtney; however, it drastically changes Gilly’s life in a way that she didn’t intend.
The author shows how hard the life of a foster parent or child can be, being that she herself was only able to handle that responsibility for a few months. Some of the lessons that Paterson teaches through Gilly’s experiences are that life does not always have a happy ending, and people should find something positive in their lives and make the best of it.
This book is realistic in that it includes real-life problems and believable characters. Clever similes and metaphors are placed throughout the story, while characterization is incorporated to keep readers gripped. Paterson effectively changes the mood and pace at which the story is read, and breaks up narration with dialogue. The writing leads readers to believe the story will go one way, when suddenly the plot takes a sudden turn. Every time a reader comes to the end of a chapter, Paterson makes them want to read more with clever foreshadowing.
This book best fits a young, mature reader, but it is recommended to people who enjoy emotional, unique books. Foster children who are disappointed with their lives, could learn to make the best of it, while foster parents will be able to relate to Trotter as they probably had to deal with kids like Gilly.