I am Rebecca by Fleur Beale
This novel is so good I read it in one day. Fleur Beale’s writing is powerful yet so simple. The sentences are short the chapters are short, the subject is beguiling and the characters stand out like the figures on Mount Rushmore.
It is of course the sequel to the classic 1998 novel I am not Esther.
Rebecca who narrates the story and her twin sister Rachael are 13 years old and they have the essence of saints about them. They are lively, intelligent, caring, hard working and obedient. They live within the religious cult, Children of the Faith, led by the fanatical Elder Stephen and their lives are dictated by The Rule.
The Rule is grim for spirits like Rebecca and Rachael but they do not question and are totally honest in everything they do. The Rule despises “worldliness” and everything is done to keep women in particular under strict control. The girls see their parents marriage as lacking in laughter and intimacy. Their father makes all the decisions and their mother is expected to show example of how to be a good and godly woman.
The girls and the Pilgrim family move to Nelson after being educated in a state school in Whanganui and they are allocated the task of selling free range eggs and chickens at the Saturday morning market. At first they are nervous but learn to enjoy it. As they approach 14 years they are betrothed to boys of marriageable age. Fortunately both sisters like the boys chosen for them.
But then a series of incidents puts the religious community into turmoil and the girls have cause to rethink their options in life.
Stunning stuff with a stunning ending. A psychological thriller out of the top draw for high school students.