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Nothing is more heartbreaking to a child than knowing her family is leaving her. This is unfortunately what happened to Galadriel (Gilly) Hopkins in the novel “The Great Gilly Hopkins” by Katherine Paterson. At a very young age, Gilly’s parents abandoned her, leaving her to live with foster families. However, Gilly was not an ordinary kid. She still clung onto the faint hope that her dear mother loved her and wanted to live with Gilly.
Already at her third foster family for less than three years, Gilly had no respect for her new guardian, Mrs. Trotter, whom Gilly claims to be fat. Gilly despised the boy William Ernest and Mr. Randolph, a blind neighbor who came to their house for meals.
At first, things were awkward and Gilly did not have a great relationship with any members of her foster family. Externally, Gilly was outgoing, from insulting her teacher to messing with the boys at recess, but internally, Gilly missed her mother and desperately wanted to find her. As time passed, the little things that happened in Gilly’s daily life grew and strengthened the bond between her and her foster family. Gilly faced many difficulties in her life and dealt with them with courage and grace.
If Gilly were a real person, she would definitely be my best friend. Her irrational personality makes the story spark with life and originality. This captivating story proves acceptance and love can make a difference in our life.
“The Great Gilly Hopkins” by Katherine Paterson, HarperCollins, 160 pp.
Age Range: 8 – 12 years
Grade Level: 5 – 6