Learning a new language, Evelyn Barber
I Am Not Esther
My first encounter with this book was when I was eight years of age. I had been so excited to borrow a Kobo from my primary school library. On the Kobo, I started reading I Am Not Esther. I didn’t understand it. All the religion was too confusing. Now, five years later at Wellington Girls’ College library, I came across the book once again. Many people complimented this book as being really good, so that encouraged me to attempt to read the book again.
Turning 14 in two weeks, I will be the same age as the main character in the book. Her real name is Kirby. She lives a life of adventure, one that is on the road of change. Her father died when she was about four years old. Because of that, Kirby and her wild mother were left on their own. Kirby didn’t mind looking after her mum; she even enjoyed running around, doing all the chores that are actually a mother’s job. As long as her mother was happy, Kirby was also happy. This is a good introduction to the book: it is the normal life of a teenage girl which girls like me can relate to.
But, after it had been just her and her mother for ages, things suddenly get thrown out the window. Being secretive is not a good thing. At first, Kirby just ignores the fact that her mother is acting strange and uncommunicative, but then things kept getting more obvious. When Kirby questions her mum about what’s going on, her mother only stayed quiet and mute.
Suddenly, the biggest bombshell is dumped on Kirby, which changed her life forever. Without any sort of explanation, Kirby’s mother just dumped Kirby with her auntie, then takes off herself, vanishing into thin air. I like this bit, because they gradually get to the biggest surprise of the book. The author makes it subtle at the beginning, and eventually it builds up to the big shock.
Throughout the religious aspect of the book, Kirby understands nothing of it. She is lost, confused, and doesn’t understand the perplexing world around her. Anyone of us would feel that way, too, if we were suddenly deposited into a new routine and a new family. It’s like moving to a new country, not being able to understand any of the language that is spoken there, and having to slowly learn the new words and new rules of that country: “But I figured I was in enough trouble right now. My eyes flickered to verse eleven: ‘For thy name sake, O Lord, pardon my iniquity; for it is great.’ I had never heard of words like iniquity and transgression before I came here.” This quote tells us how new Kirby was to the confusing world of religion. She also was a troublemaker, and got told-off a lot throughout the whole book. I can relate with the bit about starting at a new school; I have just begun college with 300 other girls in my year. I like it when I can relate to the main character in a book.
Kirby never does get used to the way of her aunt’s religion, but things do work out. In what way I won’t say, but things become clear towards the end of the book.
Having read this book, I do now understand the religious side of the book. But things have changed. Fleur Beale is a great author, as if you yourself were experiencing the life changing adventure.
Evelyn Barber is 13 years old.