The Literature Hub
Reviewed by Ashleigh
Author: Fleur Beale
Publisher & Pages: Longacre Press, 159 pages
Audience: Young Adult
Blurb: “The Women of our faith all have biblical names. We have given you the name Esther.”
Imagine this. Your mother tells you she’s going away for two years, and is leaving you with relatives you’ve never heard of. In a different city. Relatives who, you discover, are members of a closed religious sect. There is no television, no radio, no newspaper. No mirrors. You must wear long, modest clothes and behave in a ‘Godly’ way. Or else. Oh – and they give you a new name. Esther. Escape? Who to? Where? How?
Here is every teenager’s nightmare, a gripping psychological thriller set in New Zealand. Kirby’s experience of life in a fundamentalist cult is drawn in careful and convincing detail, building to a powerful battle over identity.
Review: “There’s nothing like walking in somebody else’s shoes to understand what makes them tick.” Ellen Greenland – or Martha Pilgrim – says this to her daughter towards the end of the book. For weeks or months (I’m not clear on how long she was there for), Kirby Greenland has had to endure seemingly endless praying, and having to be “seemly” and “Godly”. After her mother abandoned her for Africa, Kirby must live with her strict Uncle Caleb and his family. Worse, they’re not just strict – they’re religious. Kirby has never been religious in her life. And the absolute worst part? They change her name. She becomes Esther Pilgrim, a Godly, seemly woman who isn’t allowed any real ambitions of opinions of her own. If she has them, then it’s straight to the Discipline Room for her.
It was definitely an interesting and powerful read. It was good to get a glimpse of life trapped in a religious cult. The don’t ask, don’t tell policy is very much enforced, and Kirby isn’t the only one who is miserable living that way of life. The horrors that go on inside such a supposedly good religion/cult is fascinating. A lot of the messages in this book could translate over to the way we view other culture’s, and even our own culture.
Overall Rating: 5 STARS!!!