Foster, Sharon Ewell

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Foster, Sharon Ewell


Born in Marshall, TX; divorced; children: Lanea, Chase. Ethnicity: "African American, Irish, and Native American." Education: Attended University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; University of Maryland, B.A.; Duke University, family development credential. Religion: Protestant.


Office—Tabernacle Ministries, Inc., P.O. Box 14153, Durham, NC 27709. E-mail—[email protected]


Author, speaker, and singer, 2000—. Also worked as an instructor, writer, editor, and logistician for U.S. Defense Department for nineteen years.


Top Ten Works of Christian Fiction, 2000; Christy Award, 2001, for Passing by Samaria; Golden Pen Award, Black Writers Alliance, for Ain't No River; Borders Best 2004 Religion and Spirituality, for Ain't No Mountain; Reviewer's Choice Best Inspirational, Romantic Times, 2006, for Abraham's Well.


Passing by Samaria (novel), Alabaster Books (Sisters, OR), 1999.

Abraham's Well (novel), Bethany House (Minneapolis, MN), 2006.

Also contributor to books, including Keep the Faith and The Women of Color Devotional Bible. Contributor to Daily Guideposts.


Ain't No River, Multnomah Publishers (Sisters, OR), 2001.

Ain't No Mountain, Bethany House Publishers (Minneapolis, MN), 2004.

Ain't No Valley, Bethany House Publishers (Minneapolis, MN), 2005.


Riding through Shadows, Multnomah Publishers (Sisters, OR), 2001.

Passing into Light, Multnomah Publishers (Sisters, OR), 2002.


Sharon Ewell Foster is the author of inspirational and historical fiction, including Passing by Samaria and the works in the "Ain't No River" series. Her works also include the novel Abraham's Well, which chronicles the history of the Black Cherokee, also known as freedmen. A former writer and instructor for the U.S. Defense Department, Foster has been described as "a pioneer in African American Christian fiction" by Black Issues Book Review contributor Kathryn V. Stanley. In her writings, Foster told a interviewer, "I attempt to share my journey with the reader—he or she is invited to come with me to someplace they've never been before, or to view familiar things from an unusual perspective."

In 2000 Foster published her debut title, Passing by Samaria. Set in 1919, the novel centers on Alena Waterbridge, a Mississippi teenager who discovers the lynched body of her childhood friend, a veteran of World War I. Alena suspects her town's white sheriff is guilty of the crime, and to keep their daughter safe, Alena's parents send her to live with family in Chicago. There she confronts racism, finds romance, and restores her faith in God. In Passing by Samaria, wrote Library Journal critic Melanie C. Duncan, Foster "evokes the strength of faith needed to survive when all seems lost," and School Library Journal reviewer Connie Freeman similarly noted that the author "succeeds in showing readers that faith, hope, and love are still beliefs that people trust to weather the torrential storms that invade their lives."

Ain't No River, the first work in Foster's critically acclaimed series of the same name, concerns Garvin Daniels, a talented lawyer who retreats to her North Carolina hometown after she is suspended by her racist supervisor. Immediately, Garvin develops concerns about her grandmother's much younger boyfriend, GoGo Walker, a scheming former pro football player. "Foster's prose is often evocative and eloquent … and the plot never drags," observed a reviewer in Publishers Weekly. According to Nikitta A. Foston, writing in the Black Issues Book Review, the author examines "timely issues that transcend traditional barriers to appeal to anyone who is looking for love, has been in love, or has been hurt by love."

Ain't No Mountain, deemed "a modern-day fairy tale" by a critic in Ebony, focuses on three characters: Mary, a single, young Baltimore woman who agrees to a radical makeover; Moor, a homesick African prince; and Puddin, a lonely, middle-aged advisor for an online dating service. Reviewing the novel on the Faithful Reader Web site, Marcia Ford stated: "Foster has a knack for injecting humor into her characterizations with such finesse and subtlety that it often sneaks up on you and catches you off guard." Mary and Moor's California wedding provides the setting for Ain't No Valley. The work revolves around two of the couple's friends, Anthony and Naomi, who suddenly find themselves unemployed. In the words of a Publishers Weekly critic, "there's plenty of fun to be had."

Riding through Shadows, the first work in Foster's "Shadow and Light" series, shifts between the 1960s and 1980s to examine the often troubled life of Shirley Ferris, an African American woman who finds salvation with the help of a spiritual counselor. Though several critics found the narrative confusing, Black Issues Book Review critic Monica Harris called Riding through Shadows "a tale of how faith can overcome tragedy." In the sequel, Passing into Light, the widowed Shirley must confront her past as she attempts to begin a new life out west. The novel "generally offers the good writing and wise insights Foster is known for," remarked a Publishers Weekly contributor.

In Abraham's Well, Foster provides a fictional account of the Trail of Tears, the forced relocation in 1838 of the Cherokees and other peoples from the southeastern United States to Oklahoma, which resulted in the deaths of thousands. During her research, Foster, who is of Irish, Cherokee, and African-American ancestry, discovered that her great-grandfather was likely part of the migration. In her interview, the author called Abraham's Well a story "about everyday people who walked a thousand miles away from the land they loved. The African-Americans on that journey, in particular, have often been ignored. I wanted to tell their story, to make it come alive, and to tell the story of their resettling in Indian Territory." Abraham's Well concerns Armentia, a young woman of African and Cherokee descent who is sold into slavery after surviving the brutal trip to Oklahoma. "This is simply told and moving," observed Booklist critic John Mort.



Black Issues Book Review, May, 2001, Nikitta A. Foston, review of Ain't No River, p. 21; January-February, 2002, Monica Harris, review of Riding through Shadows, p. 58; January-February, 2005, Kathryn V. Stanley, "The Ministry of Fiction: Sharon Ewell Foster Found an Eager Audience When She Finally Answered the Call to Write," p. 52.

Booklist, January 1, 2000, John Mort, review of Passing by Samaria, p. 874; October 1, 2000, John Mort, review of Passing by Samaria, p. 302; January 1, 2001, John Mort, review of Ain't No River, p. 916; October 1, 2001, John Mort, review of Passing by Samaria, p. 335; October 1, 2001, John Mort, review of Riding through Shadows, p. 281; October 1, 2005, John Mort, review of Ain't No Valley, p. 24; January 1, 2007, John Mort, review of Abraham's Well, p. 58.

Ebony, November, 2004, review of Ain't No Mountain, p. 29.

Library Journal, April 1, 2000, Melanie C. Duncan, review of Passing by Samaria, p. 82; February 1, 2001, Melanie C. Duncan, review of Ain't No River, p. 75; November 1, 2001, Melanie C. Duncan, review of Riding through Shadows, p. 76; September 1, 2005, Tamara Butler, review of Ain't No Valley, p. 126.

Publishers Weekly, January 15, 2001, review of Ain't No River, p. 54; August 27, 2001, review of Riding through Shadows, p. 49; February 24, 2003, review of Passing into Light, p. 53; June 27, 2005, review of Ain't No Valley, p. 42.

School Library Journal, June, 2000, Connie Freeman, review of Passing by Samaria, p. 173.


AfriGeneas, (January 29, 2007), Dera R. Williams, review of Abraham's Well., (August 10, 2007), "Q&A with Abraham's Well Author Sharon Ewell Foster."

Faithful Reader, (August 10, 2007), Marcia Ford, review of Ain't No Mountain.

Novel Journey, (May 14, 2007), Gina Holmes, "Interview with Sharon Ewell Foster."

Publishers, (March 14, 2007), Cindy Crosby, "Sharon Ewell Foster: Defending Black Cherokees."

Sharon Ewell Foster Home Page, (August 10, 2007).