The Book of Essie

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Member Reviews

I loved the complexity of this book. On one hand it seems like a thinly veiled commentary on popular reality shows and the headlines we see related to the celebrities, but it goes so much deeper. The story weaves deep and sensitive topics together with an element of surprise. While I'm not sure I think Essie and the "arranged marriage"  would have happened so quickly or with such ease, you can feel the desperation with which her mother tries to keep things in tact for "the image." It reminded me of how so many people live a life that appears to be one way on social media, but the scenarios behind closed doors are very carefully sheltered. I recommended this on a faculty reading list for the summer so I hope many of the people I work with took time to read a novel that is both engaging and very timely. 

I was graciously offered a copy of The Book of Essie through NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.
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When the  teenage daughter of an evangelical reality TV show family turns up pregnant, the family sets about deciding how to handle the situation, but Essie takes matters into her own hands.
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There was so much hype online about this book so I decided to give it a try, and OH MY GOD IT WAS AMAZING. Essie was born into an evangelical family with their own reality TV show somewhat reminiscent of the Duggars. There are so many issues broached in this book that it made it so hard for me to put down. I devoured and savored all of this.
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This was a great book that incorporated our culture’s obsession with reality television with a look behind the scenes and the true cost of our entertainment.
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I could not get into this book. Not sure I understand all the rave reviews.  Too much faux religion for my taste, and the characters unappealing.
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As a sufferer of past trauma, I really appreciate how the character handles what happens to her, and it's awesome to see her grow in both strength and maturity. As I person deeply rooted in organized religion and conservatism, I also appreciated the author's take on the hypocrisy present in the Church, as well as its reaction to immoral dilemmas. Add to that the ins and outs of reality television, and this has been made one fascinating saga. I cannot wait to read more from this author, and I consider this one a truly phenomenal book. I can't recommend it enough.
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In The Book of Essie, Meghan MacLean Weir seamlessly and brilliantly exposes what we see everyday in reality television and in the news media. Essie's story is eerily similarly to a well-known reality family scandal, but MacLean Weir gives her young heroine an astuteness and a resilience that we seldom see in reality, on screen or off.
Essie is the epitome of the perfect daughter, a compliant piece of the huge money making machine that is her parent's church nationally viewed tv show. But Essie has a huge secret to hide, a pregnancy that is a liability to her family if allowed to be made public. Not wanting to be a spectator of her own life any longer, Essie puts a plan in motion that involves one of her classmates Roarke Richards and Liberty Bell, an ambitious journalist, both with secrets of their own.
MacLean Weir has created a heroine in Essie for those who want to break free of injustice and abuse, much like Katniss Everdeen was for District 12. Despite her youth, Essie gains our respect by wanting to take control of her life and her freedom.
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Entertaining, but not as thought-provoking as it could be. The issues that get brought up are intense and very real, the characters somewhat dynamic, but the complications are quickly and easily resolved, ending in a saccharine Happily Ever After.
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I loved this! The main character of Essie .was so believable! The relationship between her and her meet up fiancé was also amazing and felt very realistic to me.   The setting being in a reality TV style, but also very unique and very appealing. It felt like a social commentary on what is going on in today’s world.   I will be recommending this to my fellow book club members, as well as through my Goodreads account.
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Essie and her siblings have been raised in the public eye on their parents' reality television show.  Their dad is a famous televangelist and their mother is a very calculating, cunning woman who is raising her family as a "brand".  Nothing imperfect allowed.  But Essie has a plan...will she be able to pull it off?

I absolutely loved this book.  The storyline was unique and made a strong statement about the hypocrisy of religious extremists and how [white] men and boys are viewed by our society and especially by our judicial system.  I loved so many of the characters and my heart broke for Essie.  I also despised some characters, Celia is a character you love to hate and want to see her get what is coming to her.

I am currently OBSESSED with the Handmaid's Tale on Hulu.  There were some themes in this novel that reminded me of The Handmaid's Tale, in terms of a very conservative religious organization.  Toward the end of the novel, Meghan MacLean Weir quotes lines for Margaret Atwood's Variation on the Word Sleep, which is one of my favorite poems and a beautiful poem about true love.  It was so perfect to quote Margaret Atwood that I got chills and tears in my eyes.  I think Meghan MacLean Weir did a wonderful job with this topic in this novel. 

I recommend this novel to anyone who likes Handmaid's Tale or to anyone who is interested in really looking at some of the issues with religious extremism in America.  This book explores two different types of religious extremism: a cult that follows a man who predicts that the Messiah will rise again in a cave and an evangelical minister and his family who have their own reality TV series and espouse racism and homophobia, among other things.
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An absolutely incredible read.  I was hooked from the very beginning.  I had the twist figured out, but it didn't matter because the follow through was so good.
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I received a copy of this book from netgalley in exchange for a fair review.

To begin with, I've recently experienced a pretty messy break from the evangelical church, so I wasn't sure I wanted to read this.  Fortunately, I am swayed by a book that generates a great deal of buzz, so I gave in. There is a lot about this book to like. Essie and Roark are compelling characters with many secrets and everything to lose. To pair them together against the religious world may seem campy, but it doesn't mean it doesn't work. I was rooting for both of them with all my heart. 

Like a few other reviewers, I did want to see the deeper issues raised by this book handled with a bit more depth. Hypocrisy, sexual abuse, misuse of donations, hyper-focus on image, LGBTQ+ community and the church, these are real issues that damage many people emotionally and physically in the evangelical world. However, I also understand that a mainstream novel may not be the best platform to truly dissect what is happening in many churches today. So while I was occasionally frustrated by the shallow exploration of complex issues, I think doing so may have made the book too weighty.

I too raced through the book and found most of the twists and turns believable despite their sensational nature. Ultimately I enjoyed the journey, sympathized with the characters and was very pleased to have decided to read this.
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I recieved a free galley of this book by @prhinternational. This is an independent and honest review. 

This book really sucked me in at first. The story and the themes were interesting, and I was curious about the characters. 

After a while though, the book wasn’t really that interesting anymore. My main problems with the book was that it brought up a lot of serious themes which I wish was explored deeper. Instead, since the book tries to cover perhaps too many themes, it only scratches the surface of them. The same goes for the characters, the author doesn’t explore them enough in my opinion. The plot it self was very predictable, and also very recognizable if you’ve watched for instance the Duggar family’s TV show. 

Still, The Book of Essie was a quick and easy read, and it kept me interested enough for me to finish it, so I ended up giving it 3 stars.
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This fictional peek into a televangelist's family life is probably not too far from the truth. When 17-year-old Essie gets pregnant, the controlling matriarch of Six for Hicks, decides abortion is out of the question and a marriage is the solution. However, the solution she envisions, is not the one Essie envisions. Essie sets out to face truth head on, and strives to find peace in the aftermath.
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A beautiful tale of courage and escape in the most unimaginable situation. It sheds a harsh light on the false prophets of reality tv, and the lengths they'll go to to ensure their secrets remain beyond the reach of the cameras.
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I don’t think I could shout from any more rooftops how much I LOVED The Book Of Essie - I devoured the entire book in about half a day yesterday... centered around a teen from an evangelical religious family with their own reality show (a la Duggar family) when low and behold, the titular teen is pregnant...what can the family do to save face (and their empire), plan a wedding, of course!

This book is SO unique and well done, the voices of Essie, Rourke and Liberty all have their own style and well, just pick up a copy and see why it’s so good. .
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The Book of Essie by by Meghan MacLean Weir is a story full of scandal and reality television.  That alone might make it the perfect summer read!  The characters are well written and drawn out in a manner that will make you keep thinking about them long after you've finished reading the book.  Essie is the younger daughter in the very religious and conservative Hicks family.  She has spent her life growing up on TV as the world watches her parents run their mega church.  Essie has a secret that will cause a ripple to run through her family and their fans.  However, she has a plan to handle this with some unconventional thinking.  Read and enjoy!
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I'm not one for reality TV, and I've never seen a single episode of any reality show that centers around a family (the Kardashians, or the religious family with 21 kids, or any others). But, I was intrigued by the premise.

I finished this in less than 24 hours. I can't remember the last time that happened to me with a book. This book is super disturbing at times, and even though you can see it coming, it does get a little hard to read. But nonetheless, the story is enthralling. 

And mad props to Meghan MacLean Weir for writing a multiple POV first-person book where I actually believed that there were 3 different characters. Usually I hate multiple POVs because it never seems like it's actually a different person "speaking", but in this case I believed it 99% of the time.
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Thanks to NetGalley and Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group for a digital ARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

WARNING THIS REVIEW HAS SPOILERS.

Skip this one. Teenagers probably relate to it, but it mostly is a mishmash of stories pulled straight from the news--a radical group takes over a national park; a televangelist makes hoards of many off duped followers; a family is followed by reality show cameras; a famous family with dark secrets of molestation; camps designed to "cure" ; and, for good measure, a guest appearance by the Afghanistan girl who was shot by the Taliban. Mix them all together, and this book is written.

The characters are all too good and too bad caricatures. The conversations are unrealistic, especially for teenagers. Some questions are never answered fully, especially how Liberty Bell made such a dramatic transformation and won the love of a man with completely opposite views.

I would call it a "beach read", but I read it at the beach, and ended up skimming most of it. Writing books must be an incredibly hard task, and I commend anyone who takes it on, but this one does not work. I give it two stars, because I did skim to the end.
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Follow Essie Hicks, teen star of the reality star Six for Hicks, which details the daily life of her conservative, Christian family. The fabric of the show is disrupted when the family discovers Essie is pregnant. Essie’s mother tries to decide how to spin the story. Meanwhile, Essie uncovers her family’s secrets and works to break free.
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