Girl at the End of the World by Elizabeth Esther is a must read. I read the book in one day. The story is so compelling I could not put it down.
The author was raised in a legalistic, fundamentalist cult in which the role of women was to have babies and obey their husbands. Because she kept a journal all through her growing up, Esther is able to piece together the pain of living in such an oppressive home. She describes the absurd practices of people who seriously believed the actions of the United States government were directly tied to references in the book of Revelation and who thought the world would end within their lifetimes. The Bible clearly declares we will not know when the end will be (Mark 13:32); no matter. The cult acted as if the future were irrelevant and all that mattered was preparation for eternity. They made predictions about when it would happen (1988) and when those predictions proved foolish, they simply recalculated.
This indifference to the love Christians are called to share with all people along with an extraordinarily selective reading of the scriptures and a horribly unjust male dominance resulted in the cult thoroughly breaking the will of its members while turning a blind eye to systemic abuse. The author not only survived, but lived to describe it. Yet her depiction is not without pain. She is exposing her family – the family from which she came.
Every follower of Jesus Christ should read this simply to see where the Christian faith can go horribly wrong when it is separated from humility and love. As I read, I took breaks to spend time with my daughter. I wanted to heap love her to somehow make up for what the author missed. I wanted to make sure my daughter’s life is the opposite of what Elizabeth Esther experienced. That’s how much this book affected me.
As I said to begin this review, Girl at the End of the World is a must read. Enjoyable would be the wrong word. It is compelling, powerful, heartbreaking, and inspiring. And the author’s excellent writing of a story that needed to be told will lead readers to be more humble and loving in their own practice of Christian living.
Disclaimer - I received this book for free from WaterBrookMultnomah Publishing Group for this review.