Author: Elizabeth Esther
Links: Indiebound |Goodreads
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.