I Am Not Esther

In the novel ‘I am not Esther’ by Fleur Beale the main character experiences a lot of changes in her life. The most significant change was finding her own identity as she grew and developed as a teenager.
At the beginning of the novel Kirby is a ‘mother’ to her mother, she has to drag her mother to go shopping, Kirby has to pay the bills and even look after her own mother. Kirby never really knew what it was like to be a part of a ‘real’ family. It is only when Ellen, her mother, suffers from a nervous breakdown that she becomes a real mother to Kirby. Kirby feels loved and doesn’t think that she needs to look after her mother and can love her mother properly. “I don’t think you can love anyone when you don’t love yourself”. Kirby wants to be taken care of by her mother and not have to worry about her mother constantly; Kirby wants to be a teenager.
When Ellen gets out of hospital and finds an apartment she asks Kirby to move in with her, Kirby feels loved and cared for by her mother. Kirby feels she can be herself and, “not some robot they programmed”. Kirby found out what it was like to be a part of a ‘real’ family while living with the Pilgrim family and now she had her ‘own’ family to love. It is when Kirby watches the documentary about The Children of the Faith that she realise that, “Daniel was right, Esther was dead”. Kirby is still torn between her two identities and isn’t sure if she is ‘Esther’ or ‘Kirby’ but when she watches the boat sail away she realised that Esther was ‘dead’ and that she was Kirby.
Throughout the novel Kirby is trying to find herself and where she belongs in the world but is finding it hard because she has had so many different identities. I can relate to Kirby because as a teenager you have to find out who you are and where you belong in the world.