05 April 2014

Girl at the End of the World: My Escape From Fundamentalism in Search of Faith With a Future by Elizabeth Esther

Start reading the first chapter of
Girl at the End of the World here
(and you won't want to stop).

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"I was raised in a homegrown, fundamentalist Christian group – which is just a shorthand way of saying I’m classically trained in apocalypse stock-piling, street preaching, and the King James Version of the Bible. I know hundreds of obscure nineteenth-century hymns by heart and have such razor-sharp “modesty vision” that I can spot a miniskirt a mile away.

Verily, verily I say unto thee, none of these highly specialized skills ever got me a job, but at least I’m all set for the End of the World. Selah."

A story of mind control, the Apocalypse, and modest attire.

Elizabeth Esther grew up in love with Jesus but in fear of daily spankings (to “break her will”). Trained in her family-run church to confess sins real and imagined, she knew her parents loved her and God probably hated her. Not until she was grown and married did she find the courage to attempt the unthinkable. To leave.

In her memoir, readers will recognize questions every believer faces: When is spiritual zeal a gift, and when is it a trap? What happens when a pastor holds unchecked sway over his followers? And how can we leave behind the harm inflicted in the name of God without losing God in the process?

By turns hilarious and heartbreaking, Girl at the End of the World is a story of the lingering effects of spiritual abuse and the growing hope that God can still be good when His people fail.

From the first page, with a story of a nine-year-old preaching on a street corner, Elizabeth Esther’s memoir, Girl at the End of the World, had me hook, line and sinker. I zipped through the book, enthralled by the unfathomable craziness conveyed with such eloquent and honest prose. Elizabeth Esther doesn’t allow chronology to bog down her novel and instead relies on thematic connections to hop from one story to another, leading to the awe-inspiring truth of the Gospel. The book’s front cover highlights a quote of praise from Rachel Held Evans – “Witty, insightful, courageous, and compelling–the sort of book you plan to read in a week but finish in a day. I cannot commend it enough.” – and I cannot help but agree wholeheartedly. Thanks to WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing, I received a copy of this novel, along with the opportunity to read and honestly review it.

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