Book tells harrowing story of escape from abuse, fundamentalist religion

What is it like to grow up in a family where your parents follow the methods of Michael and Debi Pearl? Ask Elizabeth Esther, author of “Girl at the End of the World: My Escape from Fundamentalism in Search of Faith with a Future.” Thank you to Convergent publishers for sending me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion and review.

Elizabeth grew up in The Assembly as the granddaughter of church founders, George and Betty Geftakys. She was preaching on street corners by age nine, ingrained with the belief she would be Left Behind at any moment, taught that the natural curves of her body were to blame for tempting all men into sin and spanked every day. Now as an adult, Elizabeth has PTSD.

The most stomach churning moments in this book have to do with the Pearl’s child rearing advice in action. On page 41 Elizabeth describes “obedience tests” aka “blanket training”. Children from her church were placed on mats and then spanked every time they reached off the matt. Elizabeth describes how some mothers would intentionally tempt their children by placing candy all around the mats, and then spank them when they reached for the candy.

Elizabeth’s own accounts of being abused in the name of corporal chastisement are difficult to read. Gracefully, she lightens her memoir with a lot of humor. You can find out more information about Elizabeth Esther’s story on her blog.

Talk to us

More in Life

Steve Smith gift ideas for gardeners
Ten gift ideas for gardeners

From puzzles to pruners, how to pick the perfect present for the green thumbs on your list.

Jeff Barnett, owner of Salish Sea-Boathouse during the soft opening in Edmonds on November 24, 2021. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Salish Sea sets sail at second location in Edmonds

In honor of the nearby waterfront, The Boathouse has a decidedly nautical feel — and it’s more of a taproom and brewhouse than its sibling brewpub up the street.

Seven gift ideas for weathering the holiday season

Smart thermostats and portable power will be thoughtful presents — especially when energy bills and power outages hit.

Photo Caption: Francois-Xavier Lalanne often used animal motifs in his modern, minimalist sculptures. His porcelain eggcup with a chicken's head, wings and tail sold for $2,080 at Palm Beach Modern Auctions.

(c) 2021 by Cowles Syndicate Inc.
‘Pocillovy’ is the obscure hobby of collecting eggcups

It stems from Victorian times, when nearly every type of food had its own specialized dish and utensils.

Orangebark Stewartia, Stewartia monadelpha,
Great Plant Pick: Orangebark Stewartia

This tree’s stunning bark is shown to perfection when it’s planted with a backdrop of evergreens.

Clockwise from top left: Trinity Yun, Ryan Chung, Carson Chadd and John Meneses.
Orchestra returns with four outstanding young musicians

Pacifica Chamber Orchestra’s first in-person concert since before the pandemic will feature winners of the 2020 Snohomish County Music Teachers Association Competition.

Edmonds’ Gothard Sisters will perform their annual Celtic Christmas Concert at 7:30 tonight at Edmonds Center for the Arts.
Events calendar for Snohomish County

Edmonds’ Gothard Sisters will perform their annual Christmas concert on Dec. 2.

Daphne Patakia, left, and Virginie Efira in "Benedetta." (Courtesy of IFC Films/TNS)
‘Benedetta’ an unruly, sexually frank tale of Renaissance nun

Paul Verhoeven’s film has drawn protests from Catholics, which means he’s definitely doing something right.

George MacKay in "Wolf." MUST CREDIT: Focus Features
‘Wolf,’ a film about identity issues, is an unintentional howler

This misguided movie goes off the rails immediately and stays there throughout its running time.

Most Read