Friday, May 30, 2014

Book Review: Girl at the End of the World by Elizabeth Esther

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher through the Blogging for Books program for the purposes of this review.

I'd been intrigued by Elizabeth Esther's book after following her on Twitter for some time and reading her blog.  I was a little concerned that I was interested in it in a voyeuristic kind of way, though, because her experience in fundamentalism is nothing I have ever experienced nor do I (think I) know anyone personally who has experienced this.  

In Girl at the End of the World, Esther writes about growing up in a spiritually abusive cult, The Assembly, started by her grandfather, in which she was  trained to be prepared for the end of the world.  She writes of abusive beatings, being afraid of the Rapture, the courtship process, attending public school for the first time, and growing up in a patriarchal environment in which men have control over their wives and daughters.  

What stood out to me the most, though, was the grace and love with which Esther wrote.  While she does not shy away from relating her experiences and how terrible they were, it is done with care.  It is not a "tell-all" book in the way one would watch a sordid afternoon talk show, but rather a careful analysis of her upbringing, her marriage, her escape, and her journey into Catholicism with her family.  

Esther shows how control and abuse can be pervasive even in--or especially?--environments in which one does not expect it.  For those in this type of environment, this book may feel like an encouragement to get help and leave, a message that the person is not alone.  For those who are not in this type of environment, it is a way to open one's eyes to the realities of abuse that exist where we do not want them to. 

Elizabeth Esther is brave and courageous for writing this book; I encourage anyone to read it.

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