I am Rebecca is the sequel to I am not Esther; a well read novel by kiwi author Fleur Beale.While I am not Esther explores the religion of The Children of the Faith from the eyes of an outsider – Kirby or Esther, in this novel we see the faith from the eyes of an inside character – Rebecca.
Rebecca is one of the twins from the family Kirby is sent to live with in I am not Esther. She is very devout and lives a sheltered life within the cult community of her church. What makes Rebecca an interesting character is that she is very aware of how sheltered she is and of her lack of knowledge. Of particular concern to her is the marriage bed, which girls are not permitted to know about until their husband teaches them after they are married…
Most fourteen year old girls could be expected to be daydreaming about having a boyfriend or being asked out on a date. Rebecca and her twin Rachel however, are wondering who they and their friends will be betrothed to in the upcoming wedding arrangements. It’s mostly exciting, except for the fear that one of them will be forced to marry Ira who is exceptionally mean and tries to get the girls in trouble with the elders of the church.
The blurb of this book describes it as ‘a powerful psychological thriller’ and I wasn’t convinced by this description at first. The initial drama is slow and focuses on the everyday life of Rebecca and her twin sister Rachel and their interactions in their community. However, there is a growing sense of feeling like something will grow wrong and that certainly keeps you on the edge of your seat as you read! I agree that it’s a powerful story but you’ll have to read it for yourself to decide if it’s a psychological thriller.
I really enjoyed this book My rating is 4/5. I appreciated the characters and the issues the book addresses. Religion is clearly a big theme and Beale approaches it tactfully and with a good deal of insight. I think it’s appropriate for high school aged readers and definitely recommend it to those who enjoyed I am not Esther. If you haven’t read either of the books I recommend them both!
PS I read I am Malala around the same time and thought it was cool having the similar titles. Total coincidence! It would be a fun game to collect ‘I am…’ titles!
PPS In five days I am leaving New Zealand indefinitely! I will be posting travel updates on another blog – Adventures with Pete and Beka so if you are interested in following our big trip feel free to check it out and follow us!