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Girl at the End of the World: My Escape from Fundamentalism in Search of Faith with a Future by [Esther, Elizabeth]
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Girl at the End of the World: My Escape from Fundamentalism in Search of Faith with a Future Kindle Edition

5.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Review

Praise for "Girl at the End of the World
"
"Elizabeth Esther's "Girl at the End of the World" is a delightful book, funny and wise and rich with insight about God and faith. Even while telling the darker threads of her story, Esther's prose, fueled by innocence, wit, and spiritual exuberance, shines brightly throughout. Amid detailing her End, it's clear early on that, for Esther, this first book is only the beginning."
"-- Matthew Paul Turner, author of Churched and Our Great Big American God
"
"Elizabeth shares with candor, wit, and near flawless writing about the religion she was so deeply hurt by. Her story is heartbreaking, yet redemptive, and we would all do well to pay attention to how religion without the love, grace, and truth of Jesus Christ is an empty and destructive force."
"-- Sarah Mae, author of Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe
"
"Sometimes hilarious and sometimes tragic, Girl at the End of the World provides an unflinching look at life growing up inside a fundamentalist cult. Elizabeth Esther's honest and vulnerable account of her childhood, and the effects of her parents' religious zeal, is both fascinating and poignant. I couldn't put this book down. And while Elizabeth's personal story is unique, I think it will provide hope to anyone recovering from an upbringing where religiosity was emphasized over a relationship with God."
"-- Kristen Howerton, author of RageAgainsttheMinivan.com
"
"A memoir about childhood should not read like a seat-of-the-pants thriller, but Elizabeth Esther's does. And that's scary. I found myself wishing I could reach through the pages and hug that cowering, desperate girl, and tell her that God truly loves her. I'm so glad she knows His devotion now; and so grateful that she is sharing her story so that we, as God's ambassadors, can make sure abuse in the name of 'child training' never happens again.
"--Sheila Wray Gregoire, author and blogger and ToLoveHonorandVacuu

Praise for "Girl at the End of the World
"
What a story! "Girl at the End of the World" is witty, insightful, courageous, and compelling, the sort of book you plan to read in a week but finish in a day. Elizabeth Esther is a master storyteller who describes her journey out of fundamentalism with a powerful mix of tenderness and guts. With this debut, Esther sets herself apart as a remarkable writer and remarkable woman. This book is a gift, and I cannot commend it enough.
" Rachel Held Evans, blogger and author of A Year of Biblical Womanhood
"
Sometimes hilarious, sometimes tragic, "Girl at the End of the World" provides an unflinching look at life growing up inside a fundamentalist cult. Elizabeth Esther s honest and vulnerable account of her childhood, and the effects of her parents religious zeal, is both fascinating and poignant. I couldn t put this book down. It will provide hope to anyone recovering from an upbringing where religiosity was emphasized over a relationship with God.
" Kristen Howerton, author of RageAgainsttheMinivan.com
"
"Girl at the End of the World" is an unforgettable memoir. I white-knuckled its pages as I traveled through Elizabeth Esther s heartbreaking childhood. I cheered for her when she finally found freedom and grace. It s eye-opening, powerfully written, and offers a vital perspective in the conversation about fundamentalism and religious abuse.
" Jason Boyett, author of O Me of Little Faith
"
Elizabeth Esther s story is a powerful account, and she s told it beautifully. As I read, I thought of my own memories of growing up in an evangelical church and wondered how they ve made me the person I am today. This book is a reminder that God is good and that He can redeem any story for His beloved children or as Elizabeth says, that God is big enough to meet us anywhere. I m so glad she has bravely told her tale.
" Tsh Oxenreider, author of Notes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World
" There is life on every page. "Girl at the End of the World" is evidence that sometimes our scars make the most beautiful art.
" Josh James Riebock, author of Heroes and Monsters
"
A delightful book: funny and wise and rich with insight about God and faith. Even while Elizabeth tells the darker threads of her story, her innocence, wit, and spiritual exuberance shine brightly.
" Matthew Paul Turner, author of Churched and Our Great Big American God
"
A memoir about childhood should not read like a seat-of-the-pants thriller, but Elizabeth Esther s does. And that s scary. I found myself wishing I could reach through the pages and hug that cowering, desperate girl, and tell her that God truly loves her. I m so glad she knows His devotion now, and so grateful that she is sharing her story so that we, as God s ambassadors, can make sure abuse in the name of child training never happens again.
" Sheila Wray Gregoire, author and blogger at ToLoveHonorandVacuum.com
"
Elizabeth shares with candor, wit, and near flawless writing about the religion she was so deeply hurt by. Her story is heartbreaking, yet redemptive, and we would all do well to pay attention to how religion without the love, grace, and truth of Jesus Christ is an empty and destructive force.
" Sarah Mae, author of Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe
""

About the Author

Elizabeth Esther is a popular blogger and advocate who has appeared on shows such as "Fox News" and "Anderson Cooper Live." Elizabeth and her husband, Matthew, live with their five children in Santa Ana, California.


Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 3824 KB
  • Print Length: 226 pages
  • Publisher: Convergent Books (18 Mar. 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00FDS55VS
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #259,822 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
First and foremost Elizabeth is a brilliant writer, her book is a pleasure to read - engaging, fun, and a page turner too. I was desperate to find out what happened, especially with her marriage. And lots to think about too, about church, faith, family, and above all love and kindness. Elizabeth, thank you so much for writing this book....I can't wait for your next book! If you're thinking of buying it, just do it, you won't regret it.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is five stars for me because I was there - brought up in a cult till 18 - though not so severe as Elizabeth's. But close. This is a very well written story of an amazing journey that may have limited appeal, but to anyone who has felt trapped or imprisoned in their life - for whatever reason - this is an escape story with an unexpected ending. It was a page turner for me - and what other credit could one give than to wish the very best for Elizabeth's life going forward
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As an ex member of a cult family I loved the book. It is all so true. It moved ne to read it all. Very, very, well written. A page-turner. I couldn't put it down!!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x99013840) out of 5 stars 187 reviews
45 of 47 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x997c8f9c) out of 5 stars Raw and Redemptive 18 Mar. 2014
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
As readers, we first meet Elizabeth at age nine, preaching hellfire and brimstone on a street corner for her parents--who she would do anything to please, much like every girl that age. But by the end of the first chapter we're seeing beyond the brainwashing. We're seeing a little girl who doesn't want to earn frozen lemonade by shouting Romans 3:23 at total strangers from atop a milk crate. She just wants "a television, a Happy Meal and a Christmas Barbie."

Her story shifts as she grows older and stronger, and as readers we get glimpses of the Elizabeth the popular blogger some of us now know online, but we also get glimpses of what that kind of childhood does to a person. As she wrestles with panic attacks, self-harm and despair on her long, long road to a fuller, happier life--first as a teenager and then as a wife and mother--we see the reality of PTSD in all its awful glory as well as the incredible courage and the years of slow and steady determination it takes to leave that kind of toxic, authoritarian faction of faith.

Her story is raw and painful, but her story is also redemptive and beautiful. (And encouraging in the best ways.) And you don't need to have been raised in a cult to relate to Elizabeth's trials and triumphs. Her situation might have been unique, but her damaged emotions, her often unhealthy coping mechanisms, and her determination to find physical and spiritual healing are more universal. Those who love good memoirs, have been through hard things too, are fascinated by cults or just love Elizabeth's blog ... this book is for all of you!
41 of 44 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x98e26120) out of 5 stars Elizabeth Esther tells the story of my soul 18 Mar. 2014
By Sandra Christian Heretic - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I preordered ElizabethEsther's book *Girl at the End of the World*. I got it last night (when Kindle thought it was already midnight in wherever Amazon Standard Time is) and finished it by 1am.

If you grew up in fundamentalist Christianity, in the inner circle of church leadership, in any kind of cult, or even in garden-variety abuse and addiction, you paid a price with your very soul. And you will find solace in knowing that you weren't alone. I laughed and I cried and I tried to keep the noise down so my husband could sleep. But I finished with a full heart, for Elizabeth Esther wrote the drama of my childhood. Sure the setting was different and the costumes were changed, but still the heart of the story was my story too. It is the story of far too many children.

I will be thinking of this book for days, I know, as it pulls up long-hidden memories and deeply buried feelings from my own childhood. It is a healing space. Thank you, Elizabeth Esther, for creating a safe space for me to look more deeply at the wounds in my soul.
31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x98e2654c) out of 5 stars Writing Her Way Out 20 Mar. 2014
By Zach J. Hoag - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
Elizabeth’s writing is just wonderful. Her narrative style translates seamlessly from blog to book, maintaining her signature conversational fluidity punctuated by trenchant humor throughout. In the opening chapters, I was nodding and laughing, remembering the evangelical 80′s. Then, I was grieving, and still laughing – but grieving. By Part Two I was pushed deep into personal reflection and remembrance. In Part Three I was surprised by the sheer grown-up honesty in the irresolvable resolution of it all – and, by hope.

Growing up in a world where the end is near – whether the imminent Rapture of The Assembly or the last-days Great Harvest of my Pentecostal-Prophetic upbringing – is a strange thing. You never really think about what you will do with your life. You are waiting – always waiting. And reading your King James Bible, and sitting in meetings, and staying at home to prove your “distinction” from the world. In Elizabeth’s words, “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” (p. 6).

The abuse that then ensues is shrouded in the ultimacy of The End. Nothing else matters except obedience, compliance, loyalty – for then, your future is secure after the Judgment (of everyone else) goes down. Elizabeth’s descriptions of the daily spankings practiced by the cult – really, beatings – are arresting. Perhaps the emotional and spiritual abuse in which they are administered is even moreso:

"The next day when I look in the mirror, my bottom is bruised. It hurts to sit down. It hurts to walk. God desires truth in the inward parts, I remind myself. My parents spank me because the book of Proverbs says it will save my soul from hell. Even though Dad says I’m a Christian because I asked Jesus into my heart, the Bible says God chastens His children.
My parents hurt me because they love me" (p. 40).

Thankfully, I didn’t grow up in a home influenced by the same teachings about spanking, so they were relatively infrequent. But the emotional and spiritual abuse Elizabeth recounts is startlingly similar to my experience. At every turn, her desire to grow into her own identity and live out her unique gift and calling is opposed, condemned, forcibly suppressed. She might learn enough to leave, might see a life beyond the family cult. In particular, Elizabeth’s descriptions of her father and grandparents are darkly familiar – so too the anxiety and depression produced by their aggressive words and isolating actions. My heart broke all over again when reading the encounter between Elizabeth and her father in Chapter 11. I have been there.

And when Elizabeth and her husband Matt finally confront the patriarchs over their coverup of domestic violence in the family cult, the same darkness emerges. The darkness of total control tightening its grip. Thankfully, the darkness loses.
I am amazed at the way in which the author has rediscovered her faith in the structure and sacrament of the Roman Catholic Church. Perhaps this is why I’m drawn to a similar expression. Those of us who have survived such things desire safety, accountability, mystery. Not that anything will ever be perfect, but things must be better.

And then, this:

"I once heard a story about a woman who asked God to move a mountain. God said okay, and then He handed her a shovel. I think that’s a good anaology for how my story ends. I’m still shoveling. I’m still uncovering, sorting, reexamining. But I’m working on it. And giving it a rest.

"I don’t believe in perfect closure. But each day, I can choose to take care of myself. I can choose to let God love me.
He has given me a future and a hope.

"I am not afraid." (p. 190)

In Girl at the End of the World, Elizabeth Esther writes her way out of the abuse and oppression of an evangelical Christian cult.

And we should all be grateful for her work.

Thank you, Elizabeth.
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x98f3dc54) out of 5 stars Unexpectedly relatable. 17 April 2014
By Jessica Harmon - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I finished this book a month ago in a single evening. It's taken me this long to figure out some words to say. It is everything you look for in a memoir. Funny. Sad. Happy. More Funny. True. And, surprisingly for a book about a cult, relatable. I think the relatableness is what made me wait so long to write a review. It made me reconsider my history and worldview.

I have been a reader of Elizabeth Esther's blog for a couple of years now. I knew her writing was good. But she saved the best for this book. It is carefully worded and well-thought-out. The work that went into it is obvious in that way that the writing is so easy to read you don't even realize it's happening. So if you want a well-written memoir, look no further than this.

But even without the excellent writing, I would recommend this on the merits of the story alone. The story is what affected me so deeply that I had to think about it for a month before scribbling out a review. This book was so relatable. And that scared me. It shouldn't be. I didn't grow up in Southern California. I was not raised in a cult. My family is about as liberal as they come. I was allowed to do and read pretty much whatever I wanted. I am a grad student and I'm nowhere near considering marriage or children. What do Elizabeth Esther and I even have in common besides our gender?

Such is the magic, or perhaps better, mastery, of her words. She is able to take her specific experiences - her life - and share it in such a way that even I get a glimpse of her true self. I feel like I can understand what her church was like. I can even see reflections and echoes of that church in my own experience. And that terrifies me.

The churches of my youth were not cults. No way! But many of the things that bothered Elizabeth about her (modesty codes, preoccupation with being and converting the "right" kind of Christian, End Times) are things I questioned myself. It terrifies me that I could identify so much with the values of this cult. I was a standard evangelical in high school. What does it say that so much of my evangelical culture has parallels in a cult?

I thought I had moved away from the evangelical fundamentalism of my youth, but reading this book brought all of that back. All the memories of watching what I wore and struggling with what my place in the world was going to be. I live in LA now. I watch Game of Thrones and listen to Macklemore. I go to a church that is in many ways the complete opposite of my high school church. Elizabeth's fight to break free from fundamentalism has shown me how difficult it is to completely move on. I didn't expect this book to have such an impact on me. But I'm glad it did.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x997c8b04) out of 5 stars a book for the end of the world. 7 April 2014
By Kari Baumann - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
My family was not big into the idea of the Rapture or Armageddon or any of those things that Christians were kind of obsessed with in the 80s and 90s. My husband's family stocked up on supplies and even added a wood stove for Y2K, but I guess we were just going to wing it in the face of possible disaster.

Elizabeth Esther's family, though, was Rapture-ready. They had code words and meeting places arranged in case the book of Revelation came to life. (Since I did not grow up in a Rapture-obsessed family, I was not totally sure why they thought any of them would be left behind. Wouldn't they have been taken up with all the true believers?) I have noticed that the more concerned you are about things like the Rapture or the afterlife, the less concern you show for the people in your very real life in front of you. Everything becomes about achieving perfection and obedience, and there tend to be abusive behaviors that ensure compliance. This is the environment that Elizabeth Esther was raised in, a fundamentalist church/cult called The Assembly that was controlled by her grandparents. She tells the story of her childhood and her break from that way of life in her new book Girl at the End of the World.

I have read Elizabeth Esther's blog but it is hard for me to visit it on a regular basis. She (understandably, given her childhood) cycles through high and low periods that are painful to watch. I was nervous that the book would be the same way, but it is actually very different. It goes much more into her background growing up in The Assembly. Her voice is clear and relatable, the story is compelling, and it's paced steadily and evenly. She has obviously done a ton of work to be able to tell the story in this way, both emotionally and in her writing. As she found the Catholic Church, the story felt more rushed and less reflected upon, so as nice as it was to feel a certain sense of closure on some of her family's issues, the ending did not resonate with me like the rest of the book. Faith is a constant journey, so it must be hard to know where to end a story like this. I wish the story told in *this* book had ended a little earlier. Recommended for: people who like reading about fundamentalist groups, people who like spiritual memoirs.

I received a free copy from the publisher but my opinions are my own.
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