Girl at the End of the World
I was raised in a homegrown, fundamentalist Christian group—which is just a shorthand way of saying I’m classically trained in apocalyptic stockpiling, 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. Includes reading group discussion guide and interview with the author From the Trade Paperback edition.

Girl at the End of the World Details

TitleGirl at the End of the World
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseMar 18th, 2014
PublisherConvergent Books
Rating
GenreAutobiography, Memoir, Nonfiction, Religion, Biography Memoir, Spirituality, Christian

Girl at the End of the World Review

  • Daenel
    January 1, 1970
    In the interest of full disclosure, I grew up Pentecostal Holiness ~ meaning that I grew up sharing some of the same beliefs as Elizabeth Esther {minus the baby spanking and communal living}...Honestly, I'm not sure what I think of this book. My heart aches for Elizabeth Esther and all that she went through. And it breaks my heart that there are preachers who manipulate God's word in such a way that it has caused her and others like her so much mental, emotional, and spiritual trauma. I can tell In the interest of full disclosure, I grew up Pentecostal Holiness ~ meaning that I grew up sharing some of the same beliefs as Elizabeth Esther {minus the baby spanking and communal living}...Honestly, I'm not sure what I think of this book. My heart aches for Elizabeth Esther and all that she went through. And it breaks my heart that there are preachers who manipulate God's word in such a way that it has caused her and others like her so much mental, emotional, and spiritual trauma. I can tell you that this book is not for anyone who is questioning their faith or has issues with "organized religion". This book will only confirm those beliefs...As someone who had to find her own way back to God, let me advise you to read the bible for yourself, find a church that teaches from the bible, and if the leadership attempts to exert too much control over your life, LEAVE IMMEDIATELY.Salvation is a gift, Ephesians 2:8 {NIV} says:For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith ~ and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God ~The reason for God's gift is given in John 3:16 {NIV}, which says:For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.God loves you, it's as simple as that.Note: This book includes triggers and some strong language.
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  • Blake Atwood
    January 1, 1970
    I receive many good books in my work at FaithVillage, but I don't always have time to read the ones I'm interested in. Elizabeth Esther's Girl at the End of the World: My Escape from Fundamentalism in Search of Faith with a Future crossed my desk not three days ago.During a lull at work (a 30-minute system update on my Mac), I opened Esther's book and began reading, not expecting to be simultaneously enthralled by her writing and terrified by her experiences. I finished the book in short order o I receive many good books in my work at FaithVillage, but I don't always have time to read the ones I'm interested in. Elizabeth Esther's Girl at the End of the World: My Escape from Fundamentalism in Search of Faith with a Future crossed my desk not three days ago.During a lull at work (a 30-minute system update on my Mac), I opened Esther's book and began reading, not expecting to be simultaneously enthralled by her writing and terrified by her experiences. I finished the book in short order over the next few days. It's that good. And, somewhat surprisingly given the intensity of her topic, Esther's approach includes much needed humor that had me legitimately laughing out loud.Rare is the book that elicits an emotional response from me, but I found myself yelling at her family members and fellow church members for doing what they did and allowing to happen what transpired. (You'll have to read the book to know what I mean.) It's disheartening to know that such religious abuse still happens, but it's encouraging that Esther was able to heal fully enough to share her story with such courage and candor. Even though she covers her childhood through having children of her own, Esther's writing is brisk, saying exactly what needs to be said to convey precisely what happened to her, as well as her inner response to seemingly impossible situations.Stories like the ones Esther shares show both the worst of what we're capable of accomplishing "in God's name" as well as the hope that endures, and even triumphs, when man-made religion disintegrates in light of grace and forgiveness.
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  • R.L. Haas
    January 1, 1970
    "Girl At the End of the World" arrived on my Kindle at 12:04am on March 18th, 2014. By 2:00pm, I had finished the entire book, and was sitting on my couch sobbing. I'm still not sure if these were tears of grief or tears of redemption. I'm starting to believe that they were both. Elizabeth Esther tells the story of her life growing up in The Assembly, a "church" in name, a cult in reality. She tells stories of abuse and brainwashing, of confusion and heartache, of backwards thinking that had her "Girl At the End of the World" arrived on my Kindle at 12:04am on March 18th, 2014. By 2:00pm, I had finished the entire book, and was sitting on my couch sobbing. I'm still not sure if these were tears of grief or tears of redemption. I'm starting to believe that they were both. Elizabeth Esther tells the story of her life growing up in The Assembly, a "church" in name, a cult in reality. She tells stories of abuse and brainwashing, of confusion and heartache, of backwards thinking that had her so turned around that she barely knew how to function when she did finally escape. She talks about love and forgiveness, about her escape from fundamentalism and her connection with the God of Grace. She lived at the ever-changing End of the World, and still, God met her. She tells of how she met the Holy Mother of God, how she found the Catholic Church, and how Mary and Jesus worked together to save her life and breathe healing into her bones. She tells a brave story. A wild story. She weaves truth so vividly that I was often reduced to weeping over the sheer agony of it all. She depicts life within a cult with such depth and clear language that one is left sitting with the words and basking in the healing of the Most High God. Everyone should read this book. Everyone.
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  • Jill
    January 1, 1970
    Memoirs about crazy religious upbringings are usually my favorite kind, and there was no shortage of crazy in Elizabeth Esther's violent, patriarchal, fundamentalist childhood, but this memoir felt more like cobbled together journal entries than a complete, polished book. And I admit, I was disappointed to see her throw off the shackles of her former church, the Assembly, and head straight for the comforting embrace of another organized religion. I suppose, when one has lived every moment of one Memoirs about crazy religious upbringings are usually my favorite kind, and there was no shortage of crazy in Elizabeth Esther's violent, patriarchal, fundamentalist childhood, but this memoir felt more like cobbled together journal entries than a complete, polished book. And I admit, I was disappointed to see her throw off the shackles of her former church, the Assembly, and head straight for the comforting embrace of another organized religion. I suppose, when one has lived every moment of one's formative years by the book (the Good Book, in Esther's case), it is extremely difficult to be without the sort of guiding principles & moral framework that religion can provide.
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  • Eleanor
    January 1, 1970
    There is nothing but bravery in Elizabeth Esther's decision to write this book--spiritual abuse, and fundamentalist spiritual abuse at that, is unbelievably damaging, and coming out against it requires strength. She tells a blood-boiling story. The problems are near the end; her recovery seems to happen very quickly, as she falls into the embrace of Catholicism and her husband. She mentions that there are setbacks and obstacles, and does detail some of her panic attacks and flashbacks, especiall There is nothing but bravery in Elizabeth Esther's decision to write this book--spiritual abuse, and fundamentalist spiritual abuse at that, is unbelievably damaging, and coming out against it requires strength. She tells a blood-boiling story. The problems are near the end; her recovery seems to happen very quickly, as she falls into the embrace of Catholicism and her husband. She mentions that there are setbacks and obstacles, and does detail some of her panic attacks and flashbacks, especially as she attends a megachurch, but this is skated over in order to make room for the horror stories of her childhood. My guess is that her editor/agent knew what would sell, and I don't necessarily blame Elizabeth Esther for it, but I do think that it presents a slightly uneven picture. There is an excellent blog at defeatingthedragons.wordpress.com, run by the redoubtable and very intelligent Samantha Field, which goes into greater depth about recovery from spiritual abuse, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys this book or is interested in the subject, but wants some more substantial material.
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  • Homeschoolmama
    January 1, 1970
    At first I thought this book was going to be a snarky feminist rant, but it wasn't offensive like that at all. It was troubling to read, but worth it, as it is a very important topic I think everyone needs to be informed of. Spiritual abuse needs to be exposed for what it is, and Elizabeth Esther does a great job at describing the mind numbing, bewildering and crazy tactics that cult leaders inflict on their victims. The end of her faith journey is surprising to me, in a good way. Highly recomme At first I thought this book was going to be a snarky feminist rant, but it wasn't offensive like that at all. It was troubling to read, but worth it, as it is a very important topic I think everyone needs to be informed of. Spiritual abuse needs to be exposed for what it is, and Elizabeth Esther does a great job at describing the mind numbing, bewildering and crazy tactics that cult leaders inflict on their victims. The end of her faith journey is surprising to me, in a good way. Highly recommend this to anyone who is interested in reading about cults and faith journeys.
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  • Laura (Book Scrounger)
    January 1, 1970
    I don't usually read on the Kindle, but I was introduced to this book through Elizabeth Esther's blog, so when I saw that it was on sale for $1.99 I figured it was worth saving $10 off the print version (I guess there are some perks to ebooks -- and it looks like there are still a few days left in the sale, fyi).This is her story about growing up in a fundamentalist cult that revolved around intense end-times preparation, street preaching, child "training" (i.e. daily spankings), strict gender r I don't usually read on the Kindle, but I was introduced to this book through Elizabeth Esther's blog, so when I saw that it was on sale for $1.99 I figured it was worth saving $10 off the print version (I guess there are some perks to ebooks -- and it looks like there are still a few days left in the sale, fyi).This is her story about growing up in a fundamentalist cult that revolved around intense end-times preparation, street preaching, child "training" (i.e. daily spankings), strict gender roles, self-loathing, and lots and lots of fear. I appreciate her willingness to delve into some dark times in her past and give her perspective on her upbringing. While it is at times infuriating to read (mostly during the scenes of clear spiritual abuse), she is also able to keep a sense of humor about her. I also appreciate how she describes escaping the cult without losing her faith (though it evolves quite a bit). Leaving a faith in which the Bible has been used as a weapon against you could easily lead to atheism, especially since Elizabeth experiences mental and physical trauma from her past that often manifests as PTSD in the presence of "ordinary" religious situations such as attending church and reading the Bible. Even then, she finds ways to connect with God and is relieved to find that he is bigger than she thought he was.I certainly didn't grow up in a cult, but there were still parts of this story that hit close to home as far as spiritual teachings go, which is why I think memoirs of spiritual abuse can be valuable, in the sense that they help us know what to look for, and understand that this can happen anywhere. As Elizabeth says near the beginning, cults are not so much about beliefs as they are *behavior*, and fundamentalist behavior can take place anywhere, even in contexts that are not religious. Though she doesn't spend a whole lot of time "analyzing" spiritual teachings, I found a few good takeaways here, though I am now more interested in reading her follow-up Spiritual Sobriety.In short, I rate this book highly because I really connected with it and related to Elizabeth, and I also found it very readable. I'm glad she had the courage to leave her family's cult-empire, and am glad she is finding grace and peace with God.
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  • steph
    January 1, 1970
    Holy crap this book was good. I was utterly enthralled and kept sneaking off to read for five or ten minutes at a time because I wanted to know what happened next. Elizabeth is a very strong woman and that shows in all the pages of this book. So glad she escape and that she and her husband were able to get away from all the brain washing of the cult and be a normal family.
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  • Caren
    January 1, 1970
    This was a super quick read. What struck me is how, once again, women are so often suppressed in fundamentalist religious groups. (It reminded me of Jimmy Carter's new book,"A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power", which he called 'his most important work', about this problem.)I was very surprised that she became Catholic after having left her family's cult. It is amazing that she had the stomach to join organized religion at all, after an upbringing like hers. I do admire that s This was a super quick read. What struck me is how, once again, women are so often suppressed in fundamentalist religious groups. (It reminded me of Jimmy Carter's new book,"A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power", which he called 'his most important work', about this problem.)I was very surprised that she became Catholic after having left her family's cult. It is amazing that she had the stomach to join organized religion at all, after an upbringing like hers. I do admire that she was able to reconcile with her parents. I am sure that required great forgiveness on her part. This story is not unlike other stories about women leaving repressive religions----it brought to my mind some of those books by young women who left Warren Jeffs' brand of Mormonism. If you like to read that sort of thing, this will interest you. I am glad I got it at the library, rather than purchasing it. It didn't feel like essential reading for me; I've read this story before.
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  • Rick
    January 1, 1970
    This is the second book I read this year about someone who escaped from a fundamentalist Christian cult. The author wrote about the abuse of children, behavior control, mind control, and isolation, things common to cults. She was afraid to escape, because after all this was her whole life and her family was so entrenched in the cult. But when she married and had her own children she realized that she couldn't stay. I don't know why these stories grab my attention, but they do. How weak is the hu This is the second book I read this year about someone who escaped from a fundamentalist Christian cult. The author wrote about the abuse of children, behavior control, mind control, and isolation, things common to cults. She was afraid to escape, because after all this was her whole life and her family was so entrenched in the cult. But when she married and had her own children she realized that she couldn't stay. I don't know why these stories grab my attention, but they do. How weak is the human mind that accepts such extreme versions of religion? How strong does one have to be to realize it's time to get out?
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  • Mallory
    January 1, 1970
    Beatifully written, quick read. Elizabeth is born into a fundamentalist cult, and therefore grows up knowing nothing but fear, intimidation, and submission. Though she wants to escape for many years, the familiarity of the lifestyle, and the love she has for her family keeps her from escaping. She marries another member of "The Assembly", and together they leave and start a new life. I found her healing process very interesting, if not unexpected. I have so much respect for her, I cannot imagine Beatifully written, quick read. Elizabeth is born into a fundamentalist cult, and therefore grows up knowing nothing but fear, intimidation, and submission. Though she wants to escape for many years, the familiarity of the lifestyle, and the love she has for her family keeps her from escaping. She marries another member of "The Assembly", and together they leave and start a new life. I found her healing process very interesting, if not unexpected. I have so much respect for her, I cannot imagine growing up in that situation, having the courage to leave, but also having the love to forgive her family.
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  • Leigh Kramer
    January 1, 1970
    It was nearly impossible to put this one down. While I had questions at times- wanting more information about particular stories, for instance, I think she did a remarkable job of sharing her memories, while honoring her family and respecting the wishes of people who perhaps did not want to be included. I would advise caution if you've come out of a fundamentalist background. For me, it was eye-opening and heartbreaking to learn what EE went through at The Assembly. Proud of her for sharing her It was nearly impossible to put this one down. While I had questions at times- wanting more information about particular stories, for instance, I think she did a remarkable job of sharing her memories, while honoring her family and respecting the wishes of people who perhaps did not want to be included. I would advise caution if you've come out of a fundamentalist background. For me, it was eye-opening and heartbreaking to learn what EE went through at The Assembly. Proud of her for sharing her story and doing it so well.
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  • Alicia
    January 1, 1970
    This book was powerful for me. I appreciated how she was able to honestly tell her story and the recovery work that she was able to weave through this story. Her tenacity of spirit that kept driving her towards finding something different - anything different than the cult she was in was amazing to see.
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  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    This memoir was interesting, but the writing quality is completely lacking. Either tell a more compelling and unique story, or tell this story more skillfully.
  • Linnae
    January 1, 1970
    A true story of courage and change.Elizabeth grew up in a family of Christian fundamentalists, a group founded by her grandfather called The Assembly. While in many ways, her family probably seemed normal to the outside world--they didn't go off and live in a compound, for instance--her life completely revolved around the strict rules and punishments of their church. Her parents gave her spankings that bruised, with a paddle, well into her teens as punishment for her sins. One of her biggest fea A true story of courage and change.Elizabeth grew up in a family of Christian fundamentalists, a group founded by her grandfather called The Assembly. While in many ways, her family probably seemed normal to the outside world--they didn't go off and live in a compound, for instance--her life completely revolved around the strict rules and punishments of their church. Her parents gave her spankings that bruised, with a paddle, well into her teens as punishment for her sins. One of her biggest fears as a little girl was that the Rapture was going to happen and she would be left behind. However, as she grew up, Elizabeth began to feel suffocated by the religion. She and her husband Matt also became increasingly concerned by reports of abuses happening and then covered up by her father and grandfather. Together, they finally confronted her grandfather, and together left The Assembly, along with their children.* * * * *This was such an interesting story. Elizabeth brought it all to life; the desire to please her parents (that would include preaching on street corners at age 9), the way her desires and talents were constantly squashed to keep her in line, as well as the ritual abuse that occurred, under the guise of helping her repent. She didn't gloss over any of the difficult parts of the story, nor did she spare herself when she was a part of what was happening. She does have a sense of humor that comes through as well.I found her descriptions of her life after leaving The Assembly to be especially telling. It wasn't just all fine once they had left. They still had to battle the effects of their upbringing (her husband was also raised in The Assembly,) and Elizabeth had long-lasting anxiety, panic attacks, and depression to work through. I also enjoyed learning about her experiences searching for another faith.Despite my interest in the story, however, I found the writing style to be quite jarring. Most of the story was in past tense. Then, every time she would tell a flashback, she would switch to present tense. I think it was probably to give those episodes more immediacy, but it was confusing and jerked me out of the narrative every time. Not my favorite stylistic choice.Content: Mostly clean. She mentions masturbation a couple of times.I blog at: www.ofbooksandblooms.com
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  • Craig Bergland
    January 1, 1970
    Wow, this book is simply outstanding. Although I never suffered spiritual abuse, I am well acquainted with the impact of growing up in a family rife with addiction and untreated mental illness. I could very much relate to the author’s experiences and struggle to step away and begin recovery. Everyone who has struggled to free themselves from the impact of parenting that was life denying needs to read this book. I found myself feeling like I had found a sister, and cheering her courage both in he Wow, this book is simply outstanding. Although I never suffered spiritual abuse, I am well acquainted with the impact of growing up in a family rife with addiction and untreated mental illness. I could very much relate to the author’s experiences and struggle to step away and begin recovery. Everyone who has struggled to free themselves from the impact of parenting that was life denying needs to read this book. I found myself feeling like I had found a sister, and cheering her courage both in her journey and in writing this book. Her honesty and integrity are inspirational.As a religious leader, I believe this book also details the potential dangers of independent religious organizations that lack accountability and oversight. We owe it to ourselves and those in power to hold them accountable. Ultimately, we serve the Divine precisely by serving those among us by always acting in a way that is life affirming and completely non-violent. Anything less does not deserve the name of ministry.
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  • Casey
    January 1, 1970
    Very well written. I am fascinated by religion and the people who practice all religions. Elizabeth's experience was difficult to read about at times. I found myself making audible gasps and comments through out. I am so happy for Elizabeth and especially her children.
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  • Susie
    January 1, 1970
    I felt trapped nearly the whole time I read this book. Interesting, but uncomfortable. Also difficult because this cult (The Assembly) is a spin-off of Christianity. So there are lots of twisted truths in here. Unfortunately, I think most of main stream media thinks all Christians are like this cult. It was a good read but difficult.
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  • Katie/Doing Dewey
    January 1, 1970
    Summary: This was a difficult story with simple writing, but I appreciated the nuanced discussion of the good and bad parts of religion.Elizabeth Esther was raised in a fundamentalist family. She was raised to be prepared for the apocalypse; to obey her parents and her husband; and to ignore her own desires. They enforced these rules with pretty brutal spanking into her teens. Even as stress began to make her seriously ill, she couldn't bring herself to leave. Only having children of her own mad Summary: This was a difficult story with simple writing, but I appreciated the nuanced discussion of the good and bad parts of religion.Elizabeth Esther was raised in a fundamentalist family. She was raised to be prepared for the apocalypse; to obey her parents and her husband; and to ignore her own desires. They enforced these rules with pretty brutal spanking into her teens. Even as stress began to make her seriously ill, she couldn't bring herself to leave. Only having children of her own made her begin to consider the seemingly impossible option of leaving her family and their fundamentalist views.This book was at once too light and too heavy. The writing felt simple, the book was short, and the text and spacing were large. Sometimes Elizabeth's descriptions of her feelings, especially after leaving her family, felt trite. However, that's not to say they were inauthentic, so perhaps it's unfair to criticize them. The author was quite funny and the fact that she could find the humor in her situation is incredible to me. This helped with the part of the book which was too heavy - the truth of it. Knowing that the author really grew up in such an abusive environment, it was hard to read about. In fiction, the tension of wondering what would happen might be enjoyable. In nonfiction, I felt unpleasantly afraid about what she'd have to lose before she got out.I expected this book to be extremely negative about religion. Personally, that would bother me less than a book trying to convert me, but I was still pleasantly surprised that this book was more nuanced than that. The author doesn't completely abandon religion on the basis of her experience growing up. Instead, she has to find her own way to engage with religion, free from her family's influence. I typically avoid reading about controversial topics for fear the author will be too biased (either for or against my own views), so I was pleasantly surprised by the balanced, personal approach to religion in this first book I picked up on the topic.This review was originally posted on Doing Dewey
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  • Christie Hagerman
    January 1, 1970
    I plowed through this book in record time. The author's free-flowing, conversational style makes reading her story feel like she's my best friend sharing about her past at a pajama party while I hug my pillow. Except I didn't feel like sleeping when I turned that last page. I wasn't sure if I wanted to cheer for the fact that Elizabeth escaped or vomit to think about what she'd been through. More than once while reading, I was thankful that the title of the book alerted me ahead of time to the f I plowed through this book in record time. The author's free-flowing, conversational style makes reading her story feel like she's my best friend sharing about her past at a pajama party while I hug my pillow. Except I didn't feel like sleeping when I turned that last page. I wasn't sure if I wanted to cheer for the fact that Elizabeth escaped or vomit to think about what she'd been through. More than once while reading, I was thankful that the title of the book alerted me ahead of time to the fact that she did eventually get out. There were times I was overwhelmed by what she went through, by how adults had misinterpreted scripture or taken them out of context, resulting in a childhood filled with fear, confusion, and abuse. And unfortunately, I recognized myself in the pages of her story. I recognized how easily I have trusted well-meaning people who understood something different than what I now believe the original intent of the Bible to be. How easily I have adopted as a principle some parenting tactic, sure that the Word of God compelled me to mother in that way. How easily I have fallen into a pattern because others around me, seemingly more spiritual or more enlightened said this is how it should be. How easily the voices of powerful men can be confused with the voice of God. How easily a movement can become a cult.Several things really stood out to me: I appreciated the author's honesty, not only as she shared what happened to her, but in sharing her doubts, her mistrust, her challenge to God. Her viewpoints on the Catholic church were especially helpful, considering where and how I work right now. Hidden in the embers of the fire of what she lived through is also a precious love story, not only of the God who never let go of her, but of a man who saw her for who she really was. She also voiced something I've felt for a long time--the similarity between many mega-churches and cults.This is just good stuff. It's real, and unfortunately, it's real common. I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for my honest review of this book.
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  • Haley Keller
    January 1, 1970
    Girl at the End of the World's synopsis caught my eye, and I was intrigued. However, I wasn't expecting to become as enthralled by the book as I did. Girl at the End of the World is the story of the author's experiences growing up in a Fundamentalist Christian cult. I'm not going to lie, the cult part was what caught my eye. I don't have personal experiences with cults, but the cult mentality is something that I find both fascinating and horrifying.Fascinating and horrifying is a good way to des Girl at the End of the World's synopsis caught my eye, and I was intrigued. However, I wasn't expecting to become as enthralled by the book as I did. Girl at the End of the World is the story of the author's experiences growing up in a Fundamentalist Christian cult. I'm not going to lie, the cult part was what caught my eye. I don't have personal experiences with cults, but the cult mentality is something that I find both fascinating and horrifying.Fascinating and horrifying is a good way to describe Esther Earl's story. Her memoir connected with me emotionally, and even though I've never had any of her experiences, I felt myself sympathizing with her. The author dealt with far more than she should ever have had to in her life, and it was hard to read but also extremely eye-opening. I was rooting for Esther the whole time, and even though I knew before beginning that she did eventually escape the cult, I still found myself on the edge of my seat throughout the book.I highly recommend this book to everyone. The book is written very engagingly, and it would have held my attention easily, even if the subject matter weren't so gripping. I think everyone could get something out of this book. It's a hard story to read at times, but I don't regret reading it a bit. It's hard to put into words how this book made me feel, but I can say that it is one of the best books I've read in a while. It's one of those books that I want to share with everyone I know. Elizabeth Esther's story is one that I am incredibly glad was told.I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.http://hmweasley-blog.blogspot.com/20...
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  • Heidi
    January 1, 1970
    Couldn't put this one down, and I started it on a day where I spent a lot of time in waiting rooms.... so I finished it in one day! She is a wonderful writer who knows how to capture her experience in words, and leaves you smiling and sometimes laughing as well. Given the serious subject - she is the granddaughter of the founder of an abusive Christian cult, now disbanded - it was not only educational and challenging, but also surprisingly entertaining and uplifting. She paints you a compelling Couldn't put this one down, and I started it on a day where I spent a lot of time in waiting rooms.... so I finished it in one day! She is a wonderful writer who knows how to capture her experience in words, and leaves you smiling and sometimes laughing as well. Given the serious subject - she is the granddaughter of the founder of an abusive Christian cult, now disbanded - it was not only educational and challenging, but also surprisingly entertaining and uplifting. She paints you a compelling picture of her childhood and young adulthood, before she and her husband leave "The Assembly" because of the lack of repentance in male leadership over the abuses that had taken place through the years. Yet, she does not disparage her family; there is not a tone of bitterness here. I felt as though I could see not only through her eyes, but also through the eyes of both of her parents, why they stayed as long as they did, how easy it is to be self-deceived and go off track when you are so afraid and suspicious of "the world out there." To anyone wanting to better understand some of the abuses that can happen within the extremes of fundamentalism and patriarchy: this is recommended reading. And for those who believe they will never be able to move beyond the abuses they suffered in their rigid Christian upbringing, or never be able to trust God after all they've experienced: this book is ESPECIALLY for you. Because this author also shares the struggles to come to terms with who God really is, and how she can relate to Him, given the terrifying shadows of her childhood experiences. Indeed, she does not lose faith but instead discovers God's love and presence in ways she never would have expected.
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  • Sheila
    January 1, 1970
    “A story of mind control, the apocalypse, and modest attire” says the back of this book. How could I resist it? Elizabeth Esther’s memoir tells of life growing up with the everyday abuses, physical and mental, of a fundamentalist cult. Regular spankings seem to have failed in their aim of breaking her will. But it’s hard to leave home, faith and family, and Elizabeth struggles to conform, firm in her conviction that she’s ugly, God doesn’t want her to be happy, and only obedience can save her.Gi “A story of mind control, the apocalypse, and modest attire” says the back of this book. How could I resist it? Elizabeth Esther’s memoir tells of life growing up with the everyday abuses, physical and mental, of a fundamentalist cult. Regular spankings seem to have failed in their aim of breaking her will. But it’s hard to leave home, faith and family, and Elizabeth struggles to conform, firm in her conviction that she’s ugly, God doesn’t want her to be happy, and only obedience can save her.Girl at the End of the World is a heartbreaking tale, rendered gentler by the reader’s knowledge that Elizabeth must have escaped, and by the author’s natural humor and honest voice. I like her from the very first sentence and want to know more about her. I want to know why she’s standing on a soapbox at age nine, why she hasn’t run away at age fifteen, and how will she bring up her own children. I take delight in the surprise of her escape, and the wonder of slow steps back to faith. And I love her genuine insights, her willingness to face controversy, and her personal touch. This is Elizabeth’s memoir, not a template for better churches or deeper faith, and not a condemnation of any particular belief. It's also a beautiful tale of God’s mercy, slowly delivered and surely received.Questions for the reader and an author interview at the end only add to the tale. The fact that I didn’t want to skip them just shows how well the author has drawn me in. A great memoir. A great tale of wounded and recovered faith. And wonderful book.Disclosure: I received this book free from Blogging for Books and I offer my unbiased review.
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  • Jessica
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 stars. Elizabeth Esther shares her story of growing up in a fundamentalist cult, finding a way out, and learning how to heal. As a Catholic, I especially found her story of Mary leading her to the Church to be beautiful and inspiring. Her writing is good but spare; having read some of her blog and hearing other stories of fundamentalism previously, I would have liked a little more than a straightforward recounting of events, but I can understand that even what she did write was painful for h 4.5 stars. Elizabeth Esther shares her story of growing up in a fundamentalist cult, finding a way out, and learning how to heal. As a Catholic, I especially found her story of Mary leading her to the Church to be beautiful and inspiring. Her writing is good but spare; having read some of her blog and hearing other stories of fundamentalism previously, I would have liked a little more than a straightforward recounting of events, but I can understand that even what she did write was painful for her to get out. I liked the interview portion at the end for digging more into her feelings and reflections. I found the constant flipping between past and present tense to be annoying and mostly unnecessary, but that's more of a nitpick about me as a reader.This is definitely worth a read, especially if you don't know much about spiritual abuse or the dangerous "child training" advice of the Pearls. Or if that hits close to home for you, you're likely to find a glimpse of healing in Esther's story.
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  • Barbara Schultz
    January 1, 1970
    Elizabeth Esther lives here in Tustin. I picked up this book as I have been invited to attend a book club discussion where she is making a guest appearance.Book is a quick and interesting read...however some is disturbing. But the fact that it takes place here locally makes it very interesting. I will get back to this review after book club meets.The March 5 Malena Drive Book Club discussion was great! If you have never had an author at your book club, I highly recommend it. The group was small Elizabeth Esther lives here in Tustin. I picked up this book as I have been invited to attend a book club discussion where she is making a guest appearance.Book is a quick and interesting read...however some is disturbing. But the fact that it takes place here locally makes it very interesting. I will get back to this review after book club meets.The March 5 Malena Drive Book Club discussion was great!  If you have never had an author at your book club, I highly recommend it. The group was small.. 12 of us plus Elizabeth. I was immediately impressed with her intelligence. You might guess she would be articulate as she has been preaching since she was 9. Book starts off with her stating she would stand on a milk crate on a corner and state she was ready to die for Jesus. This type of a book is usually not on my to-read list but I am impressed with Elizabeth as a writer and believe she will write other more main stream type books.
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  • Unwisely
    January 1, 1970
    I am surprised by people who couldn't put this down - I *had* to keep putting it down, because the environment she was raised in was so, so terrible in spots.But (as you figured out from the title), she made it out. And seems to have survived well, which seems miraculous. I can't even imagine how hard that must be. I have to admit, I was super impressed she's still married to a guy she met there; I would think it would be tough for him to overcome that. Fascinating. A harder read than the gentle I am surprised by people who couldn't put this down - I *had* to keep putting it down, because the environment she was raised in was so, so terrible in spots.But (as you figured out from the title), she made it out. And seems to have survived well, which seems miraculous. I can't even imagine how hard that must be. I have to admit, I was super impressed she's still married to a guy she met there; I would think it would be tough for him to overcome that. Fascinating. A harder read than the gentle Shake Terribly the Earth: Stories from an Appalachian Family, but another interesting perspective on American fundamentalism. Or maybe evangelism.
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  • Jenna Bartlo
    January 1, 1970
    Elizabeth Esther is a fantastic writer. She takes you to the depths of her pain, yet offers comedic relief through the sometimes witty retelling of her life being raised in a fundamentalist cult. Her story is one of redemption and finding faith in an unexpected place. For anyone who places their hope in Christ or who has been raised in the church, this book is an eye opening experience to a particular "brand" of Christianity, the fact that cults do exist within fundamentalist Christianity, and h Elizabeth Esther is a fantastic writer. She takes you to the depths of her pain, yet offers comedic relief through the sometimes witty retelling of her life being raised in a fundamentalist cult. Her story is one of redemption and finding faith in an unexpected place. For anyone who places their hope in Christ or who has been raised in the church, this book is an eye opening experience to a particular "brand" of Christianity, the fact that cults do exist within fundamentalist Christianity, and how redemption is possible after religious abuse. Elizabeth's story also made me ask questions about my own faith, beliefs, and the role of Jesus' mother, Mary — a woman not often discussed in Christian churches. I highly recommend reading this book. It took me all of three days to get through.
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  • Videoclimber(AKA)MTsLilSis
    January 1, 1970
    Starting your life with spankings and will breaking, is not normal. But, that is the only normal that Elizabeth knew. A life of street corner preaching as a child, and never saying no. When your whole world is a cult, and your family is in charge, how do you escape?Sadly the ways of the cult follow Elizabeth throughout her life. She experiences PTSD, flashbacks and depression. She cannot sit foot in a church without a major reaction. The fact that she manages to get married, have five children, Starting your life with spankings and will breaking, is not normal. But, that is the only normal that Elizabeth knew. A life of street corner preaching as a child, and never saying no. When your whole world is a cult, and your family is in charge, how do you escape?Sadly the ways of the cult follow Elizabeth throughout her life. She experiences PTSD, flashbacks and depression. She cannot sit foot in a church without a major reaction. The fact that she manages to get married, have five children, and live a fairly normal life, is Amazing! This is a unique perspective of cult life. It is shocking and eye-opening, and very sad.
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  • Carly
    January 1, 1970
    I have read the author's blog for a few years now and was fascinated by the past that she hinted at. This book is very tightly written and well edited, which is always a pleasure these days! The actual subject matter is enlightening but also frustrating, I know that many children are still brought up the way that she was. The lifelong battle with anxiety that was brought about by being brought up to believe that the world would end at any moment, and that if you were not good enough you would ge I have read the author's blog for a few years now and was fascinated by the past that she hinted at. This book is very tightly written and well edited, which is always a pleasure these days! The actual subject matter is enlightening but also frustrating, I know that many children are still brought up the way that she was. The lifelong battle with anxiety that was brought about by being brought up to believe that the world would end at any moment, and that if you were not good enough you would get left behind to be murdered in God's name, is not a legacy anyone would want to leave their child.
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  • Jan
    January 1, 1970
    Made me weep. So thankful that my parents understood the love of Jesus and the concept of grace -- unlike this family who believed legalism was the way, the truth and the life. It breaks my heart over again to see those who have been caught up in the heavy-handedness of Gothard, Ezzo and the Pearls -- and what that belief system has done to the precious children that have been born into it. Sad, so very very sad.
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