Category Archives: My Book

Do you hear the people sing? Singing the song of book release! It is the music of the #GirlAtTheEndOfTheWorld!!

The Girl at the End of the World

So, it’s here.

I feel like I need to burst into a Broadway show-tune to commemorate this day.
Let’s go with Les Miserables, shall we?

Do you hear the people sing? Singing the song of book release?
It is the music of the people who will NOT be slaves again!
When the beating of your heart
Echoes the beating of the drums
There is a life about to start

When TODAAAAY comes!

Ok, now that THAT’S out of my system, Imma let YOU talk, k? :)

What people are saying about “Girl at The End of the World”:

“Esther’s descriptions of her claustrophobic childhood faith are clear and compelling..” 
Publishers Weekly

Witty, insightful, courageous and compelling–the sort of book you plan to read in a week but finish in a day. I cannot commend it enough.
Rachel Held Evans, NYT bestselling author

“Elizabeth Esther’s honest and vulnerable account of her childhood and the effects of her parents’ religious zeal is both fascinating and poignant. I couldn’t put this book down.”
–Kristen Howerton, author of

Elizabeth Esther’s story is a powerful account and she’s told it beautifully. This book is a reminder that God is good and that He can redeem any story for His beloved children.
Tsh Oxendreider, author of “Notes from a Blue Bike” and owner of

Even while Elizabeth tells the darker threads of her story, her innocence, wit and spiritual exuberance shine brightly.
Matthew Paul Turner, author of Churched and Our Great Big American God

Girl at the End of the World adds to an important line of ex-fundamentalist survival stories…Most importantly, though, these memoirs amplify the once-voiceless among us, and no matter how painful, unbelievable, or bitter the accounts, they require us to listen.
Christianity Today

Elizabeth shares with candor, wit, and near flawless writing about the religion she was so deeply hurt by. Her story is heartbreaking, yet redemptive, and we would all do well to pay attention to how religion without the love, grace, and truth of Jesus Christ is an empty and destructive force.”
Sarah Mae, author of Desperate: hope for the mom who needs to breathe

I opened Esther’s book and began reading, not expecting to be simultaneously enthralled by her writing and terrified by her experiences. I finished the book in short order over the next few days. It’s that good. And, somewhat surprisingly given the intensity of her topic, Esther’s approach includes much needed humor that had me legitimately laughing out loud.
Blake Atwood, author of The Gospel According to Breaking Bad and editor at

“Her story is raw. Her story is painful. But her story is also redemptive and beautiful and encouraging in the best ways, and you don’t need to have been raised in a cult to relate to Elizabeth’s trials and triumphs. Her situation might have been unique, but her damaged emotions, her often unhealthy coping mechanisms, and her determination to find physical and spiritual healing are more universal.”
Tamara Rice, author of and editor of over 40 books

“…as I was reading Girl At The End Of The World, all I could think was “damn, her voice is so clear.” Every event unfolds and I can hear her telling these stories. I can hear her laughing at herself, I can hear her tender heartbreak and forgiveness as she talks about her parents, and I can hear her admiration and devotion when she talks about her husband, Matt.”
–Hannah Ettinger, author of

Once you get your book, I would love to see you post a selfie with my book–I wanna see YOUR face. It would be so much fun to see the wonderful collage of beautiful readers holding my book. Post it on Instagram or FB and tag me, k?
Instagram: @elizabethesther
Twitter: @elizabethesther with hashtag #GirlatTheEndofTheWorld
FB: post it to my FB wall “Elizabeth Esther’s Blog Friends”

Remember, I wanna see YOUR face. I already know what my book looks like!
I wanna see YOU!!! xoxox. EE.

i loooooove youuuuuuu!!!!!!


Barnes & Noble


My Book Cover!!!!

It’s real, you guys. It’s happening. My book is now available for pre-order on Amazon! The release date is still March 2014, but my publisher–Convergent Books, a new imprint of Random House–has it up on the Convergent Books website, too. It’s super exciting to see my AUTHOR profile up next to Addie Zierman and the other wonderful authors at Convergent. Squeeeeeeeee! *happy dance*

Nothing less than everything

I gave everything I had to the first two drafts of my book. And now, I must give more. This has shattered me. Because it is true. I must give more.

And yet, giving more is not what I thought it was. Giving more actually means letting go more. Loosening more. Freeing myself more. I’m still hanging on. I’m still second-guessing. I’m still afraid. I’m still writing in half-measures. The first draft was all fight and victory. The second draft was all victim and being acted upon. The third draft is a marriage between victor and victim. The third draft erases the dichotomies and allows all of it to co-exist together: the rage, the victory, the soulfulness, the sorrow, disappointment, the pain and joy.

The third draft requires nothing less than everything.

I am reminded that nothing less than everything is also what love is. A true, fully splendored love is not a love of half-measures. It is not only victor. It is not only conquest. Love is also a servant. Love is also gentleness, surrender, receiving, giving.

I went to bed for two straight days. I was depressed as hell. I tore down parts of my blog, slashed and wailed and screamed. I have been keeping back half my heart from you. And I don’t want to give it because I know what will happen: rejection.

Yes, rejection. This is love’s risk: rejection. That I will hand you my vulnerable, breakable heart and you will stamp it out on the ground. Or, maybe you’ll accept it, but I’m still scared because: I HAVE REJECTED OTHERS’ HEARTS.

Oh, God! I am part of this Internet culture that despises and mocks and finds fault and blames and accuses and is So Very Outraged. I am the chief of all rejecters!

I lay in bed and I wept for my sins. How did I come to this place? How did I come to be the arbiter of grace, the gatekeeper of grace, the decider of who and who should NOT be the recipient of grace?

I have come to this place because I have built a habit of self-righteousness, a habit of outrage that is, actually, a habit of cowardice. How many times have I taken the cheap shot? How many times have I engaged in the rank futility of online arguments? How many times have I exchanged the open-hearted grace of Christ for the quick thrill of Being Right?

This is my sin.

And it has shown up in my book. I am incapable of writing a book that is complex and poignant and transformative because I rely on HASTE. My writing instincts have been shaped by blogging. I know how to go for the gut appeal, the conversation-starter, the provocation.

But this does not work in books. At least, not in the kind of book I really need to write.

I must wean myself off the addiction to feedback, approval, going viral, punchy tweets. I must SLOW DOWN in order to really give.

I must give nothing less than everything.

I have all these fears: you will leave, you will forget me, you will walk away, I will become irrelevant, I will miss an opportunity, I will miss my deadline, people will not be reading books by the time mine is done (yes! I’ve actually thought that).

And then I look at these fears and see them for what they really are: egocentric. It’s all about me. And all about MY career. And MY ideas of what it should be. And MY hopes to be like ___________(fill in the blank great writer).

I have to give up. Again. It’s a daily thing, this giving up. This is what faith is. It is a giving up. A letting go of outcomes, of plans, of hopes and dreams. It is a letting go of haste and hurry and convenience. It is a letting go of thinking it was All Up To Me.

It is a letting go of thinking that I can just hammer this thing out and produce a brilliant manuscript because I AM A GIFTED WRITER.

I am a sprinter (bloggers usually are) but writing a book is a marathon. If I’m going to make the transition to truly writing a book I can be proud of, I have to let go of blogging. I really do. I’m not going to make any hard and fast rules, here. But blogging is short-form writing and what I’m trying to do right now is long-form writing.

Two drafts later I realize I SUCK AT LONG FORM.

But! There is hope! Because I’ve already reworked the first four chapters and I have to say: they are pretty kickass. My editor agrees.

If I can give nothing less than everything, then the book I will put into your hands will be a damn good book. I will serve you, the reader, by giving nothing less than everything.

I will serve you and I will risk giving you my broken, vulnerable, breakable heart.

Because that’s what love is. Love gives nothing less than everything.

There is a price to pay. It’s called letting go.

This is me.

Letting go.

This is me casting myself upon nothing less than the mercy of God.

kyrie eleison, christe eleison.

{comments closed}

6:04 am. January 24, 2013. MY BOOK IS DONE.

He brought me up out of an horrible pit,
out of the miry clay,
and set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm.
–Psalm 40:2

I made it. I’m here. I’m safe. I’m free.
I finished, by His marvelous grace.
To God alone be the glory.
Halleujah, amen, let’s have champagne for breakfast!!!!

The story fights for me

Felt completely heartbroken last night. Just utterly torn up and wrecked. I’ve reached that point in the book where I feel like I simply can’t, can’t, can’t take another step. I want to quit. I want to raise the white flag of surrender.

I’m at 26,000 words. Halfway.

Every single day I’m re-entering the pain. I’m opening a vein and bleeding. I would like this to stop now.

I went for a long run this morning. I reached the point where I felt like I couldn’t go on. Each step hurt. Each breath. That’s when the inspiration hit me:

This is a test.

The Test is not that shitty things happen. That’s just the reality of life. The Test is not that life is unfair. It’s unfair for everyone.

The REAL TEST is whether I can remain open, vulnerable, tender and loving.

Or will I close up? Will I shut down? Will I grow hard and bitter? Will I wreak my own vengeance? Will I become cynical? Will I hate?

This is The Test and let me tell you, I am tempted. I am tempted to get angry. I am tempted to get cynical and hateful.

There’s nothing like reliving everything to remind you exactly how and why you got hurt. There’s nothing like re-entering the pain to remind you how people abused you and how you abused those who came after you.

I am tempted to lash out.

And I am also tempted to soldier through, push on, try harder, chin up.

I am tempted to SURVIVE.

But I’m not going to do that.

I’m doing everything differently this time.

I’ve let go of being a survivor. Now, I’m stretching myself out on the altar.

I’m choosing to stay open. I’m choosing to love. I’m choosing earnestness. I refuse to hate. I refuse to dishonor the story with sarcasm. I refuse to even editorialize.

I choose to simply tell the story and trust my readers. I trust you. It’s not my job to tell you how to feel.

I choose to lay myself on the altar and let the story tell the story.

I choose to stay soft, vulnerable, open. Yes, you can take a swipe at me. Yes, you can hit me. Yes, you can throw me away.

I will stay here. I will stay loving. I won’t let what happened to me turn me cynical or sarcastic.

I won’t fight back with arguments.

The story fights for me.

I choose love.

If I go missing, come look for me in 1984.

EE at age 5

I don’t know how people write books and blogs simultaneously. I really wish I had that kind of superpower. But I don’t. I can’t even write a blog post right now. My whole entire self is stuck in 1984. At least you know where to find me. I’ll be the kid freaking out that the Rapture happened and she was left behind. Today I took a drive to my hometown and looked at all my old childhood houses. I went to the park where my Dad told me our secret family password–the one that I was supposed to use in case the Anti-Christ arrested he and my mom. Oops, I’m giving the book away. See? I can’t write books and blogs simultaneously. The upside of visiting my hometown? I remembered everything correctly. The downside? I remembered everything correctly. I’ve forgotten how to use paragraphs. I keep forgetting to eat. I’ve never felt so cold in all my life. I feel like I’m bleeding myself all over the pages I write. This is good news, I promise. Look, I’ll even start a new paragraph.

This book I am writing? Oh, it’s very good. It’s pretty much my best writing ever. You will be glad I’m not blogging. Hell, I’m glad I’m not blogging. I just wrote hell. I really am gonna get left behind at the Rapture. I just wrote a blog post. I must have superpowers. No, I don’t. I just wanted you to know I’m still here. I’m writing you a very good book. Yes, you. Because I love you, don’t you know? I hope you love me, too. Goodnight, beloveds. Wait for me, k? xo. EE.

My shadow days are over

I finished my book and emailed it to my editor. One minute later I freaked out. It was like giving birth and then mailing off your baby. I’ve been wandering around for a week in a daze. I have anxiety. I keep staring off into space. I feel…bereft.

While I was writing my book, I lost touch with everything real. I was in such intense emotional pain–the kind that saps your appetite, won’t let you sleep. But I didn’t seem to mind–at least, not while I was writing my book. I had purpose. I had a project.

Now I don’t have a project.

Except, well, I have a mess to clean up. While I was writing my book, my marriage suffered a direct hit. There it is. I wrote it. Look at me being all honest.

There’s really nothing like writing about life in a cult to unearth all the dysfunction in your relationship. The very foundation of our marriage was built in the cult. And the sad truth is that despite leaving the cult, the cult was inside us.

So, there it is. Our marriage crashed on the rocky shoals. But we’re not abandoning the ship, we’re trying to repair it.

I guess the good news is that writing this book forced me to take a hard, honest look at everything. I faced it head-on. Unflinching. I learned that I want to be real. And I want to be in a real relationship with real honesty.

We’re in therapy. Double sessions, sometimes. Because we won’t let the cult take everything. A friend said, “Well, at least being raised in a cult gives you an obvious source for your dysfunction.” Which insight was so true, I laughed. There’s a gift in that, I suppose. At least I didn’t have to spend years in therapy just trying to figure out why I’m screwed up. That part is fairly obvious, har-har.

The hard part is feeling my way out of it. (Yes, feeeeeeeling my way out. Over-thinking and rationalizing and “soldier-ing through” got me into this mess).

Still, I can see hope glinting. It is dark but I’m not despairing.

My shadow days are over.


“Compassion can never coexist with judgment because judgment creates distance, the distinction which prevents us from really being with the other.” –Henri Nouwen, The Essential Henri Nouwen

I have been very quiet here. I am deeply ensconced in book-writing. Last night I completed Chapter 6 which means I am more than halfway done…this process has taken over my entire life. I had hoped I could keep up with everything AND write a book. Not so. It is all-consuming and I am SO in it. Book writing is the purest kind of agony I’ve ever experienced, second only to child birth. I think this will be a short labor, though. I am way ahead of deadline. My hope is that what I birth through this book will penetrate deeply into your soul and speak to those most hidden places. My hope is that this book frees you from fear. It is freeing me right now. And so I keep on writing, writing my way into realness, writing my way to you….much love, EE.