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APOCALYPSE CHILD BY FLOR EDWARDS
For the first thirteen years of her life, Flor Edwards grew up in the Children of God. The group’s nomadic existence was based on the belief that, as God’s chosen people, they would be saved in the impending apocalypse that would envelop the rest of the world in 1993. Flor would be 12 years old. The group’s charismatic leader, Father David, kept the family on the move, from Los Angeles to Bangkok to Chicago, where they would eventually disband, leaving Flor to make sense of the foreign world of mainstream society around her. Apocalypse Child is a cathartic journey through Flor’s memories of growing up within a group with unconventional views on education, religion, and sex. Whimsically referring to herself as a real life Kimmy Schmidt, Edwards’s clear-eyed memoir is a story of survival in a childhood lived on the fringes.
From the Author
My memoir Apocalypse Child is about a girl (me) who grows up in an apocalyptic cult in Southeast Asia. She lives under the control of a dictator-like leader who controls his twelve thousand followers from his top-secret hiding place. Flor never sees the leader and grows up never knowing she will live to see adulthood. Instead, her future is painted with the promise of a lush heaven precluded by a torturous death because she is one of God’s chosen children who will save the world before the Great Apocalypse when she will be twelve years old. Despite the terror Flor faces, she manages to see beauty around her. But her life is once again jolted when the leader dies and Flor is thrust into the throes of mainstream society and left to make sense of it all.
Outside the walls, dirt was everywhere. Whenever we left the compound, it crept into shoes and gathered in noses. It stuck to our skin and matted our hair. It billowed up in clouds on the side of earthen roads and turned car metal to rust. It settled into dust behind clanging rickshaws and covered the fruits and vegetables of the produce vendors, who wore sedge hats with flat tops and long-sleeved white cotton shirts with frog buttons. They stood at their fruit stands or rowed their boats along the water markets in the murky Mekong River canals. Dust spanned the horizon as far as the eye could see. It kicked up an afternoon haze that shaded the sun, and when monsoon came, thick raindrops turned the dusty roads into mud.
We left the compound only to win lost souls or gather dona- tions or take long walks in the late afternoon. Inside the walls our surroundings were almost hospital-clean, with bright white walls and spotless wood floors. The kitchen was orderly, with dishes stacked neatly and washing basins that smelled of disinfectant or Pine-Sol. The food cupboards and bulk food barrels were labeled with block letters in black marker on white masking tape. Even though we didn’t own a lot of clothes and mostly wore hand-me-downs or donated garments, the clothes we had smelled like fresh laundry powder and sun from being hand- or stomp-washed and laid out to dry.