Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ Free Shipping
Girl at the End of the World: My Escape from Fundamentalism in Search of Faith with a Future Paperback – March 18, 2014
|New from||Used from|
All Books, All the Time
Read author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more at the Amazon Book Review. Read it now
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
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.
Top customer reviews
As with all cults, there is a very heavy demand on its followers to conform to the leadership which all too often is very controlling and demanding. Theirs is basically a gospel of works; not one of living by faith through grace but one of legalism - a system of do’s and don’ts required to please the god they preach.
As such, for the author, hers was really a life of enslavement that does not characterized Biblical Christianity at all where there is freedom and liberty and an abundant life in Christ. "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly". (John 10:10) And that abundant life is free through Christ; not through our own striving nor is it through a religious system like Roman Catholicism.
I give the book a four star since it is well written and easy to read.
I read the whole thing in one sitting. Elizabeth's story of survival in a cult is fascinating, heartbreaking, funny, and well-written. I often think of cults as a rural, old-fashioned idea. Elizabeth's story takes place in a city (one that I lived in and went to high school in, in fact). She went to public high school, was an honors student, wrote for the newspaper...she was me, except my grandfather wasn't a cult-leader.
Part of the appeal is the "juicy" details of life inside a fundamentalist cult (and the book delivers those details), but Elizabeth's questions and eventual journey out of the cult are just as important and compelling. I've read her blog for a few years now, but reading her book gave me a whole new appreciation for what she means when she says the cult is still inside of her and she is still recovering.
Bravo, Elizabeth, for writing such an honest and important memoir.
Elisabeth's grandfather started a group called "The Assembly," and her parents served as leaders.The book title comes from The Assembly's focus on eschatology and the imminent end of the world. Members constantly prepared themselves for an apocalyptic event; separated themselves from mainstream cultural practices, clothing, and entertainment; and practiced communal living and evangelistic zeal. Elisabeth herself lived in a torment of anxiety that she would be left behind.
I found the second half of the book more helpful than the first. While Elisabeth's childhood in the cult was poignant and heartbreaking, I felt she tended to editorialize with her modern-day level of awareness and a snappy sarcasm which for me created a disconnect. She wasn't wrong to do so, I just found it harder to connect with her character in the first half of the book. Sarcasm is fun to read, but it can hold feelings at arms' length.
I noticed a shift in tone halfway through the book. Less humor, more depth of feeling and dawning awareness of the evils of her cult. Her description of meeting her husband, Matt, and their early life in The Assembly was for me very powerful. Elisabeth is candid and does not sugarcoat the mistakes she and Matt made as they struggled to fit into The Assembly and eventually struggled to leave. And it was a struggle. This is so helpful to see, because by definition cults are hard to leave. It is encouraging to hear of a couple who courageously chose to leave, even as we see what that decision cost them.
There is always a cost to leaving a cult. Sure, you gain freedom, but freedom comes with a price when you leave a group like The Assembly where you've spent a lifetime surrounded by friends and family, without learning the normal common sense and coping mechanisms that help navigate a complex culture.
Elisabeth's struggle with PTSD is very real and brave. Her journey of healing is ongoing, even ten years after leaving. In this, many ex-cult members can relate. I can.
Some evangelical readers may find Elisabeth's entry into the Catholic Church troubling. I find it honest and hopeful, though I struggle to understand Elisabeth's reverence of Mary as sympathetic mediatrix. Psychologically, I get it. Theologically, I can't go there. But no one is asking me to.
Overall, an honest look at a life with more than its share of pain, yet a courageous journey to freedom, reconciliation, and healing. I pray for every blessing on Elisabeth, Matt, and their family as they continue their journey with Jesus.
Having grown up in a fundamental setting, I know too well how outsiders looking in can be fooled by appearances. Many naive people see girls in long dresses who love to read their Bibles, and think that's ideal. This book will help shatter misconceptions about what its like to grow up in a fundamentalist group. This book will perhaps shock you by revealing how abuse can hide under a cloak of holiness. And hopefully, this book will anger you, as you read of the damaged child --- the damaged children--- suffering under the hands of their own parents.
In short, this book is a gripping account of life growing up in an abusive church, a church that espoused teachings such as Michael Pearl's.
My hope is that this autobiography will be one more step in the process of exposing and eliminating the rule of abusive teachers, leaders, churches, and parents in fundamentalist groups all across America today.
Some reviews posted here, unfortunately, are shocked that the author became Catholic as an adult. Please put religious prejudice aside and read why the author made that choice. As with so much about this book, it will touch your heart and could open your mind to a new understanding.