Ellen Foster is a little girl in the 1960s who is neglected by her parents. She goes from family member to family member, each as cold and unreceptive as the next. All the while, Ellen retains her toughness, yet longs to live in a happy foster home. While the novel consists of her memories of suffering through different, unpleasant Dursley-esque living situations, every few chapters jumps back to the present time, where we can see that Ellen is now at peace and cared for in a foster home. This novel translated very well on-screen as a Hallmark TV movie.