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I Am Not Esther (I am not Esther #1)

3.81 of 5 stars 3.81  ·  rating details  ·  1,191 ratings  ·  135 reviews
A young girl is left by her mother with relatives she's never met who are members of a strict religious cult. Her name is changed to the biblical Esther, and she is forced to follow the severe set of social codes of the order. Soon, Esther begins to lose her own identity.
Hardcover, 250 pages
Published July 1st 2004 by Turtleback Books
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I really enjoyed this book, I thought the plot was great and enjoyed the characters even "grey Uncle Caleb."

Too often I have found that YA books are full of doom and gloom and angst. They try to tackle very heavy subjects, without entertainment or a satisfactory conclusion. I picked up this book after hearing a great book-talk about it and after scanning the blurb was reluctant to read it, but I was very pleasantly surprised. Although it did deal with a fairly heavy subject (religion/cult), it w
Hannah Rahman
I am not Esther is an amazing novel about a girl Kirby whose mother suddenly tells her she is going away to live in Africa and that she is being sent to live with her uncle and his family. Her mother hasn't talked about her family in a long time and Kirby is very upset and shocked by her mothers actions. Kirby's life changes dramatically when she is sent away and she is forced to change her clothes to long skirts, her hair needs to be tied up in one long plait and her life is all about god, read ...more
I read this whole book in one sitting, cover to cover. It brings out so many emotions and thoughts and was a fascinating read. I can`t imagine people living that way as they were in the cult and I really can`t imagine being Kirby forced to become Esther and adopting new rules and expectations that she was forced to follow.
While I did sympathize with Ellen, Kirby`s mother and what she was going through, I cannot for the life of me understand her leaving her daughter with the cult that she herself
Rachel Lee
Feb 29, 2008 Rachel Lee rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
What would you do if your mom packed her stuff and went away to Africa, leaving you with family you've never once met? What if they don't have anything to do with the real world, and all they do is worship God?
Kirby can't watch TV, go online, read books or have anything to do with modern life. Her life must revolve around God and God only. It's a horrible lifestyle she lives. And her name is now Esther.
The plot line was fantastic and I have actually had a chance to meet this author who was lovel
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
2.5 Stars
Kirkby is sent to live with maternal family when her mother decides to do aid work in Africa. Kirby had never known her family by this time and as well as the shock of being sent to live with strangers she is also confronted with needing to assimilate into a cult like fundamentalist religion. Among other changes Kirby's name is changed to the more Godly 'Esther', with Kirby's statement 'I am not Esther' being oft repeated throughout the novel and reflective of Kirby's refusal to accept
Tasha Baxendale
I decided to read 'I am not Esther' because it was highly recommended by friends as they had previously read it at school and it was apparently an excellent read.

This book falls into the category of 'a book written by a New Zealander'. This category was interesting for me because I usually don't read books by New Zealanders as I usually can't find ones I can enjoy but this book was fantastic and was new for me.

My favourite quote from this book is "It still isn't easy. I still cry a lot, but most
Nicole Mettam
Prizewinner review - Honour Award in the 1990 New Zealand Post Children's Book Awards.
- Won the Storylines Gaelyn Gordon Award for a Much-Loved Book in 2009.

1. I chose to read this book because my mum suggested it to me, and it was written by a NZ author, I also chse to read it because the sypnosis sounded relly intersting. I haven't read this type of book before but i'm glad I did.

2. A character I found interesting was Daniel. He was most closest to Kirby (Esther) when she came to live with th
Why I decided to read this book?

I decided to read I am not Esther because of the task of reading a classic or prize winner, normally a classic wouldn't appeal to me.i was told that this book is worth reading so I gave it a go expecting the worse but I loved it.

Why I liked it/didn't like it?

I liked it because the main characters life was so different to mine and it was interesting reading about it as I wanted to know how she got through it seeing she had to shortly adjust to uncle Caleb's rules a
Melinda Szymanik
This book deals with a very interesting topic of closed religious groups and, I think, handles it very well. Told in first person we get a very clear sense of how someone can lose their sense of identity and how difficult it is to break away from this type of life even when you know it is the right thing for you to do. The writing is solid and the voice compelling. However, I did find the pacing in the book a little uneven toward the end. After a measured journey through Kirby's indoctrination t ...more
This is a good read for people who are interested in plot rather than language or the building up of suspense in stories.
This was a pretty good read, fast too, but i felt as though i was still left wanting more depth to the situation. I dove into the book with high expectations after reading reviews and i think thats what got me - i wanted to like it, so i didnt.

Kirby/esther was a strong and relatable character (especially if you are a new zealander) but i didnt get any of the interior feelings
This title pops up on many reading lists including Cults and Coming-of-age and I thought it was going to be a hard read but when an unexpected reading window came up (stuck in bed) I had the whole story in 3 hours. I enjoy Beale's writing and through this story she gives a glimpse into the 'why-we-stick-with-something' instinct of humans. I could feel myself screaming at the main character to get out, leave, but I could also see why she couldn't. How reassuring it is that with education and supp ...more
Erika Yajaira Mendoza
I really like this book, it was easy to read and don't took a lot of time. It remind me of two communities near the town I lived in my childhood in Chihuahua, Mexico, they are called "menonitas" (Amish) and I don't know much about their religion but I remember that they couldn't watch T.V. or listen the radio, the men at very young age do the work in the fields and the women and girls do all the housework including the cooking. I also remember their women dressed like in this book, like I said t ...more

I Am Not Esther is about a teenager who is thrusted into a hisitic family. Her mother is unstable and needs guidance, she is sent to the hospital but tells Esther that she is doing beneficial work in Africa. Esther must endure the religion which her mother once ran away from. In the care of Isaac, her uncle, she must follow the rules of his household. Certain things are not to be mentioned, and religion must be preserved and most of all, God must be worshiped.

While reading through
When her mother suddenly decides to volunteer at a refugee camp in Africa, 12-year-old Kirby is sent to live with relatives she never knew existed. Her uncle, aunt, and cousins belong to a religious community called Children of the Faith; they live an extremely conservative lifestyle based on the bible and eschew most outside influence. They drive cars, but have no phone or television, and dress modestly and with muted colors. They don't own any mirrors. Kirby's mother left the community at 16 a ...more
My step-sister told me that it was one of her comfort re-reads growing up and I can see why. The main character is very real and it is easy to identify with her. It’s a story about being an outsider, and one who doesn’t understand the society she is thrust into – something that many teenagers identify with whole-heartedly. It’s also a novel that has an unusual society within recognisable NZ and one that is absorbing and magnetic because of its difference and the rumours and mistrust that abound ...more
Ashleigh Neame
How I Discovered or Acquired This Book: Came across it in an old, hard-to-find second hand bookshop in Onehunga, Auckland, New Zealand.
When & Where Read: November 2013 at home.
Noteworthy Experiences While Reading This Book: Even though Kirby knew it was all wrong and frequently stated this, I sometimes found myself identifying with The Rule and The Children of Faith.
Check Out Author’s Other Books or Related Books? Yes.
Quality of Writing: 9/10
Pace: 8/10
Plot Development: 8/10
Characters: 9/10
I was perusing the YA shelves while my son was and grabbed this one. The language was simple, and it was rather predictable, but it managed to keep me entirely ticked off through the whole thing!

It reaffirmed my opinion that there is no reason that you should ever forsake your children...and most certainly not in the name of your religion! It also reaffirmed my theory that most- if not all- members of these ridiculous cult-like backward communities that do not allow any outside influence, school
Last year we had a brief reading time at the school where I work a few times a week. I didn't have any YA in my art classroom, so I went to buy some books on sale and "I Am Not Esther" was one of them. A student read the book and said that it was really good, so I decided to check it out. I'm glad that I did. I imagined that this book would be dark and maybe slightly depressing because it is about a girl stuck with a strict religious community against her will, but it actually wasn't as dark as ...more
Kathleen Dixon
Kirby is a very capable 14-year-old who manages the finances for her and her mother - in fact, she manages just about everything in their household, but that works fine. They're happy.

But suddenly, her mother is moving them down to Wellington, and when they get there Kirby discovers that the Wellington move is all a subterfuge. In actual fact, her mother is going to Africa for a year to do some voluntary work, and Kirby is being sent to live with family she never knew existed, and in a community
Amanda Pace
This was such an emotionally charged read. Kirby is a girl that I feel strongly connected to for many reasons, but let's begin at the beginning. She lives with her mother, Ellen, who is a nurse but despite her position at a hospital she is very irresponsible and Kirby has to take care of the "adult" things around the house such as paying bills, grocery shopping, and cleaning. It has just always been that and Ellen's love seems to make up for it in Kirby's opinion. However, Ellen is very child-li ...more
Tara Calaby
I'm a sucker for anything that deals with life in religious cults, whether the account be fictional or real. So, when I found this book in my partner's bookshelves, I knew it was only a matter of time before I devoured it!

In some ways, I Am Not Esther satisfied my expectations. It is impossible not to sympathise with Kirby, so infuriating is the situation that she's placed in. The demands that are made of her by her uncle would seem unfair to most readers and the lack of fun and expressions of l
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 he
Brooke Moody
I chose to read this book because it fit on e of the categories i needed to fill but it also was in the top 5 teen reads.

It fits 'a book written by a New Zealander' category on the bingo board. (Fleur Beale)

I found this book interesting because of the concept and idea of it. I liked the change Kirby had to make after her mum leaves to go to Africa and she has to live with her Uncle where she has to tie her hair up and where different clothes and it is all about religion. And i like how the title
Shakerra Muhammad
How would you feel if you had to be raised by a family that you weren't fond of? And not to mention these people are belong to a strict religious group. I love the authors writing, it's excellent. Her description of the "discipline room" helps me picture a strong image in my imagination. Injustice can happen in many different ways. Kirby's spirit shows throughout the book and the entire time I felt myself hoping she would prevail. I know her life wasn't easy, trying to adapt to this new environm ...more
Eva Ashmore
Why I decided to read this book
Alex recommended this to me and I had been finding it hard to find a New Zealand author.
Which category it is under and why it was interesting
This book is in the New Zealand author category it is written by Fleur Beale. I found it interesting because i understood a lot of the slang and the places the author used. Whereas most book it’s the opposite.
A line I enjoyed was
I liked the note Kirby's uncle writes her 'please excuse Esther, she was doing the lords work' beca
People that know me well know that the over- religious really freak me out and so this book was very disturbing to me.
The plot was a good idea, but not well executed. The character initially struggled with her identity changes, but I felt like the internal struggle was over shadowed by the focus on external rebellion. I would like to have read more of Kirby's internal dialogue that leads to the rebellious acts and less about the acts themselves. Which leads me to the predictable ending... it was
I read this after I am Rebecca and have year 7-8 girls now really enjoying both books. A good insight into life within a male dominated religious society, I read aloud some good extracts from the beginning of the book when Kirby first meets her new family and subjects them all to a few hours of prayers for her ungodly words.
Kirby is used to taking care of her immature and flighty mother. One day, she simply runs away to become a nurse overseas and these strangers take her into their home. They are part of some odd Christian cult (turned out to be a fictional cult, when I checked it out) They seem to be somewhat like the Mennonites but are forbidden to have any sort of fun or use contractions when they speak. She was forcet go go by "Esther" a biblical name and live as they do. She spends most of the book adjusting ...more
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Fleur Beale is the author of many award-winning books for children and young adults, best known for her novel I am not Esther which has been published worldwide.

Beale was one of six children of a dairy farmer Cedric Corney and of a teacher and author Estelle Corney (née Cook). She was born in Inglewood, Taranaki, New Zealand, on the farm where her father was born. Beale grew up in the town before
More about Fleur Beale...
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