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I Am Not Esther (I Am Not Esther, #1)
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I Am Not Esther

(I Am Not Esther #1)

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  2,568 ratings  ·  285 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.
Paperback, 256 pages
Published July 1st 2004 by Disney-Hyperion (first published 1998)
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Seren Holden Her mother is haunted by her past and is also struggling with mental health issues and feels she should abandon her daughter with her very very…moreHer mother is haunted by her past and is also struggling with mental health issues and feels she should abandon her daughter with her very very religious relatives because she thinks her daughter should not be caught up in the mistakes her mother made in the past.(less)
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Community Reviews

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3.91  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,568 ratings  ·  285 reviews


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LibraryLass
Feb 10, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Rachel Lee
Feb 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Cameron
Jul 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Rose
I am Not Esther, by Fleur Beale, is a sad yet inspiring book about a 14 year old girl, Kirby Greenland, whose life changes, after her mother gets a job helping refugees in Africa, and leaves her with these strange relatives she has never met before. Not only do these people have a different lifestyle to her, but she is also expected to live by their ways. These relatives belong to a religious sect called The Children Of The Faith. They have no televisions, radios or phones. They have virtually n ...more
Maddy
May 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I Am Not Ester Book Review
The book I am not Esther, written by Fleur Beale, is a book about a girl changing, changing religion and person. The title I am not Esther is from Kirby’s Catchphrase “I am not Esther”. i would recommended this to book the age of 12 and over, it action packed and shows a different point of you that you are probably not used to !

When fourteen-year-old Kirby Greenland’s Mother (Ellen Greenland) leaves her own daughter in the hands of her relatives while Ellen supposedly g
...more
Kelsey
Aug 12, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 0-reviewed, 2017
do you ever feel like the only person on goodreads who Didn't Get It

this was so short and left me somewhere in the realm of "eh, okay," so i'm not even gonna pretend to format this like a proper review. enjoy jotnotes...

the good

- kirby herself. a goddamn fireball who i found pretty funny, wild, reckless, and for all her big talk, still had a heart and kindness to give to her 'siblings' and some of the church kids who she was initially a snot about

- loved loved loved how kirby became a big sister
...more
Hannah Rahman
Jul 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wide-reading
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
Ashleigh Neame
Nov 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
En
...more
RitaSkeeter
Oct 21, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya, 2013
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
...more
Mary Bronson
Wow, this book was great. It was hard to read because of the content and thinking about this actually happens in the "real world". I thought the characters and plot were both written very well. I read this book a long time ago in high school and had no idea that it had two other books. Now I want to read them.
Avery
Mar 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Personal Response: I am not Esther, by Fleur Beale, is an amazing book with many hidden secrets and events that leave the reader in suspense. The book’s easy, yet intriguing read is what makes the reader want to learn more.

Plot Summary: Kirby Greenland is a teenage girl experiencing a new way to look at life while living with her recently known family she didn’t know she had. Kirby, known in her new biblical home as Esther, has to find out why her mother has abandoned her and how she can escap
...more
Carolina
May 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I LOVED this book. I was really excited to read it, since the theme was something I had never read about before and it had some great reviews. I am very happy to say I was not dissappointed.

The religious themes aren't shoved down your throat, and neither does the story try to put you completely against it. Instead it gently eases you into this almost other world that the characters are living in, and you slowly learn about their day to day and way of life.

The writing was just great. Simple, but
...more
Roxy
Sep 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a really good quick-read, recommended tweens.
Haley Dearth
Sep 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Tasha Baxendale
Sep 24, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviews
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
...more
Sheila
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
...more
Maggie61
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
...more
Diana
This book was a very good read. One that my librarian picked out for me and I'm very glad he did.

The writing in this book was very impressive. It portrayed the thoughts and feeling Kirby had towards her mother and the negative situation she was in throughout this book. The writer did well at displaying those emotions and the battle of guilt that Kirby was experiencing.

This book was very honest in the way that it talked about relationships and being part of a community. I found it very moving and
...more
Linda
Sep 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
It has taken me a long time to get around to read this New Zealand classic, nearly 20 years since it was originally published. The themes of the book are still relevant today and I enjoyed this story immensely.
Kirby and her mother have been on their own all of Kirbys life, so when her mum announces she is going away and Kirby is to go and stay with an uncle she has never heard of, Kirby is shocked. More so when she finds her uncle and aunt and family are part of a strict religious cult. Kirby b
...more
Sharlene
Sep 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nz, jun-jul-book-pool
Really enjoyed this book, even though it took me awhile to read.
Rebecca McNutt
Jun 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book was very well-written and original for the most part, definitely not what I was expecting at all! It's a really eerie novel and definitely worth reading.
Stacey Broadbent
Dec 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was quite an interesting read. When I bought it, I didn’t realise it was set in NZ and written by a kiwi, so that was nice to see.

Kirby is a regular teenager, living with her mum and getting ready for Christmas. But her whole world is flipped on its head after a letter arrives informing her mother of an opportunity of a lifetime. Within days, they are packed up and on the road, and then her mother drops a bombshell on her. She’s not coming with her. Kirby is to live with her family, The Chi
...more
Jess Hale
Sep 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
I remember reading this when I was first published, but apparently it's already a "classic"!

Fleur Beale is one of my favourite authors. One of the strengths of her young adult novels is her vibrant, resilient teenage characters, which Kirby certainly is. She also does adult characters well too - in a YA novel the adults are often the antagonist, but Beale doesn't write two-dimensional villains - even if they're not sympathetic their motives are understandable and it's often rewarding at the end
...more
Zoe  (BookswithDaggers)
Oct 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
My school librarian started me on this book. She said I might like it. I did, though, boy, did it deserve it's title "Psychological Thriller". I stayed up all night reading it and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The start wasn't exactly badly written, just a bit slow going, sure your response is: Relatives??? What??? But we all knew this from the blurb. When I had finished it, my heart thumping in my ears, I thought: okay, this is an acceptable ending. Not that it's wrapped up neatly with a bow, but... ...more
Aida
May 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
What I liked most about the book was when Esther had been placed in the Discipline room and was forced to memorize psalms. She wanted to tell Maggie somehow that she was fine and she didn’t “Die” like Miriam did. She did this by shouting out the words. (Which made Maggie giggle). To me, everything was amazing. All the scenes had been placed perfectly and the story flowed nicely. There are two things I thought were interesting in the book. Firstly, how Miriam died had intrigued me and I wanted to ...more
Esther
Jun 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
I think the book called 'I am not Esther' is very good. I saw the title of this book and I thought this book would be interesting because the main character has same name with me. I enjoyed this book, because all the characters in this book were interesting and the story of this book was either nervous and funny. 'I am not Esther' is also about the church (the community religion). I didn't really know about church (the community religion), but after I finished this book, I understood about churc ...more
Susan
Mar 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Books about cults and insular religions fascinate me, so when a friend recommended this New Zealand classic, I knew I had to give it a go. I AM NOT ESTHER is a fast read, starring a sympathetic heroine who is easy to root for. As she fights against the injustice of being abandoned by her mother, oppressed by her new family, and not having a voice in anything that happens to her, Kirby struggles to remain true to her real identity. It's an intriguing story that is both disturbing and thought-prov ...more
Séraphin
Apr 01, 2018 rated it liked it
Really gripping read - couldn't put it down. Seeing the life of teenagers in a cult was somewhat fascinating, though I regret that it's not own-voices, but inspired by somebody else's life. I totally empathized with Kirby and her mixed feelings regarding her family and her convictions. That being said, I felt like there lacked details and descriptions of Kirby's environment - like, she goes to school but never interacts with other students, it's like they're not even there. This makes it a littl ...more
Lavada
Dec 19, 2018 rated it liked it
Kirby has grown up with just her mom, and no other relatives. Then, at the age of 14, her mom sends her off to live with an uncle she's never met, who's involved in a strange religion. She is no longer Kirby, but called Esther, as Kirby is not a biblical name. Kirby has to figure out how to survive in this strange world, without her mom, where everything is filtered through the man of the family. Kirby discovers some of the family's secrets and challenges their rules.
Olivia
Mar 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
"I Am Not Esther" was an okay book. It starts off almost sickeningly happy explaining the less than perfect relationship between the main character Kirby and her mom. After a couple pages, we learn that Kirby's mom needs to make an emergency trip to Africa, leaving Kirby to live with her ultra religious relatives who she's never heard of. I liked the concept of the book, however I did not like how quickly the story changed from normal life to a conflict that lasted the rest of the novel.
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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

Other books in the series

I Am Not Esther (3 books)
  • I Am Rebecca (I Am Not Esther, #2)
  • Being Magdalene (I Am Not Esther, #3)