11-year-old Galadriel Hopkins, known as "Gilly," is a hurt and angry child, rejected by her mother and shuffled from foster home to foster home, becoming harder and more unmanageable with each stop. She sabotages every effort at kindness towards her, and fantasizes about being reunited with her mother, who she imagines to be perfect and beautiful and to love her very much.
Then she is taken in by eccentric Mrs. Trotter, a poor widow lady, very overweight, not much of a housekeeper (though a great cook) and lacking in education but certainly not lacking in wisdom or love. Along with "Trotter," Gilly lives with timid little William Earnest, another foster child in Mrs. Trotter's charge, and gets to know Mr. Randolph, an almost blind, old black man who lives next door and who comes to dinner each night. Slowly, she comes to love these people, who love her.
Although there is a fair amount of language in this book, The Great Gilly Hopkins is beautifully and powerfully written. It could be an excellent read for the mature reader, helping develop compassion and sensitivity for others whose lives have been different and more difficult than their own and eyes that look past external behavior to the motivations and pain behind it.
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