The Book of Essie

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 12 Sep 2018

Member Reviews

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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Thanks to NetGalley and Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group for a digital ARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

In the way of the Duggars, a reality TV family famous for their ultra-conservative views & ever-expanding brood, The Book of Essie tells the story of a televangelist’s family who is famous for broadcasting their lives on a reality TV show, Six for Hicks, for over two decades, and the subsequent aftermath when the baby of the family, Essie Hicks falls pregnant at the age of 17.  

A pregnancy scandal like this could ruin the carefully planned and plotted lives of the Hicks, who have become extremely wealthy and famous by promoting the word of God and putting all of their business on display for millions of viewers.  They consider covering up this pregnancy, but then decide it would be better to use it to their advantage ... it could be another way to ramp up viewership and subsequently bring in a lot of profit for the the family.   Why not marry off Essie right away to a deliberately selected guy and televise the wedding?  The pregnancy announcement will come after, of course, and no one will know the better that this baby was conceived well before the “I Dos” and is not the child of the hand-picked young man by Essie’s side.  

While Essie’s family and their cohorts scheme and plot her future, she is conspiring on the side with a notorious reporter ... because everything is not as it seems in the glossy, picture perfect Hicks’ household. Will she choose to expose her family’s secrets or will she protect this seemingly perfect world they’ve built? 

The Book of Essie by Meghan MacLean Weir feels like a novel pulled from today’s headlines.  With ordinary families & individuals receiving extraordinary fame by way of reality TV and social media, and with the #MeToo movement taking the world and media by storm, The Book of Essie is a product of our times.  The novel brings attention to the monster that society creates when people achieve insta-fame for just living their everyday lives. It also highlights issues concerning consent, and the lengths that people will go to protect the degenerate and manipulate the victims. 

Where The Book of Essie falls short is in its plot and delivery.  The story is captivating, yet horrifying at the same time, but is wearily drawn out.  Essie’s secret is hinted at throughout the novel, yet the big reveal (even though easy to guess) doesn’t come until about 3/4 of the way in.  The first three quarters of the book slowly takes readers through the planning of the wedding, and Essie and her family’s efforts to convince the masses that this love is for real.  The story is tiresome, and one can’t help but wish for something more to happen. Even more distracting is the multiple viewpoints used in telling the story.  Alternating between Essie, her betrothed, and the trusted reporter, readers get this story in little bits and pieces from various POVs.  However, none of the voices are distinct, and I found myself often starting a new chapter and forgetting that I was reading a different character’s story - the voices are that similar.  

While The Book of Essie is not bad, it could have been so much more.  The premise is  scandalous, scintillating, and relevant to today’s society, but unfortunately, this novel is just okay.  What could have been a voyeuristic look into the pitfalls of reality TV and celebrity obsession, instead reads too much like a suffocatingly moral tale.
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So so good. I guessed the climactic secret midway through - but that did not detract from its power.
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This story could have been ripped from the headlines! Finally, after years of living in the glare of her family's reality TV show, Essie takes control of her life. She's in a terrible predicament and hasn't seen the big sister she adores for years. Why has she cut off all contact with her family? With no one to turn to, Essie's on her own and with everything at stake, she's got one chance for freedom and a future. Meagan MacLean Weir reveals the complexity of Essie in tantalizing layers and nothing is as it seems. It's a delight to unravel the depth of this character. It's not just the spellbinding story - you want to finish the book because Essie's journey is inspiring and brave.
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Everything you have always wanted to know about a televangelist and his family is in this book.  It shows the true human side - the family is not as perfect as the picture presented on tv, hopefully not all of them are this bad.  Poor Essie is pregnant - and NOT married.  The trials and tribulations her mother goes through to get the job done just to protect the family name are simply beyond words.  Essie has a secret however and manages to blast the whole family apart.  She creates a new family for herself - one far superior to her birth one.   Well-done Essie!
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The Book of Essie is a very compelling story that pulls together many timely topics. Teenage Essie is a smart, relatable young woman who deals with pregnancy, family and friendship while living on the set, so to speak, of her family’s reality TV show. This is a quick read, yet tough issues are not oversimplified. Recommended for both adults and teens.
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Well paced and very readable, The Book of Essie offers a behind-the-scenes look at contemporary celebrity reality TV world. A coming of age story that is also a story of female empowerment and friendship, The Book of Essie touches on filial allegiance, family dynamics, sexual violence and the redeeming power of bearing witness.
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I received an ARC of this novel from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I was rooting for Essie and heartbroken for Libby and Lissa.  Rourke is perfectly flawed and is the true hero of the story.. 

 This novel is so timely in light of our reality television fixation--it left me wondering what will become of the children who are brought into that sort of fishbowl existence.
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I spend through this book...it sucked me in and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Definitely tackles a multitude of difficult issues but in a way that relates.well to recent events.
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I received a DIGITAL Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  From the publisher --- 														

A debut novel of family, fame, and religion that tells the emotionally stirring, wildly captivating story of the seventeen-year-old daughter of an evangelical preacher, star of the family's hit reality show, and the secret pregnancy that threatens to blow their entire world apart.

Esther Ann Hicks--Essie--is the youngest child on Six for Hicks, a reality television phenomenon. She's grown up in the spotlight, both idolized and despised for her family's fire-and-brimstone brand of faith. When Essie's mother, Celia, discovers that Essie is pregnant, she arranges an emergency meeting with the show's producers: Do they sneak Essie out of the country for an abortion? Do they pass the child off as Celia's? Or do they try to arrange a marriage--and a ratings-blockbuster wedding? Meanwhile, Essie is quietly pairing herself up with Roarke Richards, a senior at her school with a secret of his own to protect. As the newly formed couple attempt to sell their fabricated love story to the media--through exclusive interviews with an infamously conservative reporter named Liberty Bell--Essie finds she has questions of her own: What was the real reason for her older sister leaving home? Who can she trust with the truth about her family? And how much is she willing to sacrifice to win her own freedom?

I will start off by saying that YES I watched "19 Kids and Counting" and fo watch "Counting On" (now that they have removed Josh for his sexual assaults and Derick for being a, well, jackass) so I really looked forward to reading this book.  I was not disappointed as this was so well written and enjoyable as the plot was beyond interesting and captivating. It is what we call in my book club(s) #bookcrack !!!!
The fact that this is a DEBUT novel is astounding: I look forward to many more books from this author... FIVE SHINING STARS!!
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I could not put this book down, but I do have to say that it was a bit predictable. I would recommend it though.
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Thank you NetGalley for providing an ARC in return for my unbiased review. 

I picked up this book thinking it would be a popcorn read - a "torn from the headlines" title from the world of reality television. It did not disappoint. Though it feels a little preachy at the end, and the mystery is not difficult to solve, it was an enjoyable read and I look forward to reading other titles by Weir in future. I will recommend to patrons who enjoy topical novels with heart.
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I was excited to read this book based on the blurb alone.  With today's current celebrity reality climate, it seemed fitting to read something that deals with some of the social issues we face today.  It is very poignant and speaks to today's #metoo movement.  I was rooting for Essie and secretly hoping she was going to be strong and take on the establishment.  What a strong, courageous character.
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The Book of Essie is a great summer read. It brings hypothetical dirt from behind the scenes of reality TV shows we love to hate.
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Absolutely amazing. I loved Essie and Roarke. What a story of strength and triumph!
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Essie is the youngest child on a reality television show featuring her family's religious life.  When Essie realizes that she is pregnant, she manipulates her mother into arranging a marriage to a gay boy from her high school that she barely knows.  Everything Essie does, including contacting her sister who ran away years ago, is to secure her freedom from her oppressive family.  In order to tell her story, Essie reaches out to Liberty, a journalist with a past just as crazy as Essie's.

My biggest complaint about this book is that the author really tried to tell two stories, Essie's and Liberty's.  She had them both unravel at the same pace and reveal at the same pace.  The book would have been smoother and more impactful if Liberty's  story was told upfront and the book focused on Essie.  If this is the Book of Essie, the author should have focused more on her.  Overall,  I think this book will capture the imagination of teenagers, who will love the reality television aspects.
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