Author(s): Fleur Beale
Life inside a religious cult becomes too much for 16-year-old Rebecca when she finds out who she is to marry. When she turns 14, Rebecca will find out who she is to marry. All the girls in her strict religious sect must be married just after their 16th birthdays.Her twin sister Rachel desperately wants to marry the boy she's given her heart to. All Rebecca wants is to have a husband who is kind, but both girls know the choice is not theirs to make. But what will the future hold for Rebecca? Is there a dark side to the rules which have kept her safe? Can the way ahead be so simple when the community is driven by secrets and hidden desires? Award-winning YA writer Fleur Beale's gripping sequel to the bestselling classic I am not Esther is a psychological thriller.
The path to salvation is long and full of perils. Your leader will guide your steps. It is a sin to turn away from his divinely inspired guidance. - The Rule
Rebecca Pilgrim has lived her whole life in a strict religious cult on the West Coast. Everything she does is governed by The Rule. She has always known she is to marry at 16, and that she will discover who this is to when she is 14. This has always been the way in her cult - called the Children of the Faith - and Rebecca presumes it will be how her future children live too. Rebecca’s story starts when all the Children of the Faith living in Westport move to Nelson to join with another section of the cult stationed there. Rebecca’s family is not complete - her older brother and sister have left, along with an older cousin, Kirby, known to the cult as Esther (from I Am Not Esther), who had been with the Pilgrim family for a short period of time. However, as Rebecca grows older, she begins to realise her life and cult are not as idyllic as she once believed. Rebecca soon learns she needs to choose between the life she thought she would always have - even though it’s turning out like nothing she thought - or escaping the cult into the unknown and (as Rebecca believes) eternal damnation. I found this book a worthy sequel to I Am Not Esther. Even though it was a long wait for some - 16 years! - I had only read the first book a few years ago. Even so, I was interested in finding out what happened to the remaining Pilgrim family and the Children of the Faith. Fleur Beale’s style of writing is lovely, and her trick of placing The Rule at the start of each chapter (until she stopped) was very clever indeed. I couldn’t connect with Rebecca for obvious reasons - I was not brought up in a religious cult - but that didn’t make her any less of a dimensional and interesting character. Again, I can’t say I have ever experienced what she went through, but Rebecca herself was a very human character, with flaws, strengths and struggles. I strongly suggest you read this book. I Am Rebecca was a wonderful book that I would definitely recommend to my friends. It comes under the genre of psychological horror (although not as much as I Am Not Esther). Although I found the articulation of the book quite hard to understand, once I got into it I thoroughly enjoyed it. - Katie (14)
I Am Rebecca is the sequel to I Am Not Esther. Fleur Beale captured our attention with her first book about a teenager thrown into the world of a closed religious community. And the sequel is just as fantastic (you don’t need to read the first to appreciate the second, but I would recommend both!). Rebecca is a twin and is reasonably happy having known no other life. The community have moved and settled in Motueka and their new elder is stricter, but little changes for the twins until they are chosen to sell goods at the local market. Here they are well-liked and seen as pious but lovely girls. As the contact with the outer world increases, the date for their betrothal grows nearer. Each twin is happy with the choices made for them – and although they are young, the men are also merely teens. However things change unexpectedly and Rebecca is left to ponder a choice that will change her life. This is a gripping novel that I read in one sitting. Informed by Beale’s research and contact with former members of closed religious communities, the novels are sensitive and thoughtful, yet throw no punches about the devastating destruction of family over community. - Stella
I Am Not Esther, I Am Rebecca and Sins of the Father by Fleur Beale
I have just finished reading three books by Fleur Beale, first was I am not Esther, quickly followed by I am Rebecca, then, without pause, Sins of the Father. All three books completely intrigued me. The first two are Young Adult books, which follow a period in the lives of Kirby (Esther) and Rebecca, who belong to a closed religious family. Through reading about their lives, issues of religion, power, power, control and freedom are explored. The non-fiction Sins of the Father, is an account of the life of Phil Cooper, the son of Neville Cooper, the founder and leader of the West Coast Glorivale community - a fascinating read and insight into the ‘Cooperites’ and the impact such a life had on one family. - Sarah
Finalist: New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults 2015
Fleur Beale is the author of many award-winning books for children and young adults she has now had more than 50 books published in New Zealand, as well as being published in the United States and England. In 2012 Fleur won the Margaret Mahy Medal for her outstanding contribution to children's writing. She won the Esther Glen Award for distinguished contribution to children's literature for Juno of Taris in the 2009 LIANZA Children's Book Awards. Fierce September won the YA category in the 2011 NZ Post Children's Book Awards and the LIANZA Young Adult Award in 2011. Fleur is the only writer to have twice won the Storylines Gaelyn Gordon Award for a Much-Loved Book: with Slide the Corner in 2007, and I Am Not Esther in 2009. A former high-school teacher, Fleur lives in Wellington.