Ceridwyn's Reviews > I Am Not Esther

I Am Not Esther by Fleur Beale
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's review
May 29, 2009

liked it
bookshelves: aotearoa, ya_non-fantasy
Read in March, 2009

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 about that style of cult.

The handling of language in I am not Esther is one of the things I really liked about it. I thought it was a beautiful way to delineate between communities. The religious sect do not use contractions, speak in a manner of rigid grammatical correctness, and talk in an old fashioned way that uses biblical quote and words not in common parlance today. Their language is very prosaic and concrete – there are few similes or metaphors. Kirby on the other hand uses words and phrases that conjure up flights of the imagination and place her firmly in the ordinary NZ teenager bracket (although one from ten years ago!). Her language is far more relaxed and casual.

The conflict of their communication styles is an echo of their intellectual and emotional conflict.

I am not Esther is an entertaining, easy read, but possibly a little too pat and spelling-out-of-the-ending-ish. Took me about 45 minutes and I feel like I gulped it down.

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