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I Am Not Esther

1 rating: 4.0
A book by Fleur Beale

Sort of a Handmaid's Tale for the junior high set, New Zealander Beal's engrossing novel peers into the restricted world of the Children of the Faith, a rigidly traditional (and fictional) Christian sect. Resourceful Kirby has never known any family … see full wiki

Tags: Books
Author: Fleur Beale
Publisher: Hyperion
1 review about I Am Not Esther

Thought-provoking, honest, kind and wonderful

  • May 5, 2011

Kirby’s Mum’s a great nurse, but not very organized. Still, that’s okay. Fourteen-year-old Kirby’s efficient enough for two. Then Mum announces they’re moving. Kirby finds herself living among religious relatives who insist on calling her Esther and make her dress and act like a character from history. She’d like to run away, but where can she run? In Wellington, New Zealand, Kirby has no friends, no relatives beyond the strangers she’s told are family, and no hope.
Soon a burgeoning care for her new brothers and sisters gives Kirby another good reason not to leave—how can she desert them here? How would they cope? But how does a young teenager balance her own needs against others’, and how does she balance her own identity against the one they impose upon her.
By the end of the story Kirby and Esther are so closely intertwined the young fugitive’s not quite sure who she is, or who she can rely on. The story of her transformation and rebellion is beautifully told in Fleur Beale’s I am not Esther, even to the details of language slowly changing as the narrator absorbs her new identity. Faith and love are dealt with gently; even rebellion is tinged with the recognition of kindness; and a story of hopelessness ends with hope restored. Kirby is a wonderful character. Her journey is a fascinating, thought-provoking read, filled with vivid detail and genuine humanity. And I am not Esther is an amazing tale of survival, identity and mercy.
Disclosure: Nothing to disclose. I liked the picture on the cover. I’d just been studying Esther in the Bible. And I bought the book.

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