I Am Not Esther
author: fleur beale
pages: [paperback] 256
maggie & daniel
Imagine that your mother tells you that she is going away. She is leaving you with relatives whom you have never heard of-and they are members of a strict religious cult. Your name is changed to a biblical one, Esther, and you are forced to follow the severe set of social standards set by the cult. You don’t know where you mother is, and you are beginning to lose your own identity.
I picked this book up on a whim and it actually turned out to be a decent read. I knew that it would freak me out, as all novels with themes of abandonment and repression tend to do that, but I wanted to see what Kirby’s reaction to all of the horrid things happening to her would be. And, yes, I kept thinking of the little pink video game character whenever her real name came up.
Her reactions to some things seemed to come from nowhere. As it’s in first person I expected to see the build-up to her little explosions, to hear the internal conflict and lament with her on everything that she was being put through. But it was pretty much cut and dry writing. This happened, then this happened, then this happened. That was disappointing because I feel like I really missed out on the chance to get to know her and understand her more.
Thus I liked some of the supporting characters better, even those who fully believed in the religion that was being forced upon her. Daniel was just awesome. Maggie was adorable. Even her so-called friends were well-defined and memorable in their own ways.
So much more could have been done with this book that just didn’t happen. The ending was vaguely disappointing and left more to be desired. I just wanted the meat of the story and was left to search through the bones to find something that wasn’t there to begin with.
DISAPPOINTING. 3/5 stars