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The Book of Essie: A novel (2018)

by Meghan MacLean Weir

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3712148,838 (3.85)21
FINALIST FOR THE 2018 NEW ENGLAND BOOK AWARD "Both timelessly beautiful and unbelievably timely."--Chris Bohjalian, New York Times bestselling author of Midwives and The Flight Attendant  A captivating novel of family, fame, and religion that tells the 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?… (more)

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» See also 21 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
Like the Duggar girls, Essie Hicks grew up on a TV reality show as the youngest child of a prominent preacher. When she is 17 and unexpectedly pregnant, her imperious mother arranges a marriage for her with the son of a poor congregant family. The two don’t fall in love, exactly, but form an alliance that results in many secrets being brought to light.

The Book of Essie is an ambitious tale, with multiple narrators and plot points. If it is not entirely successful in realizing everything the author set out to do (she doesn't seem to have completed her homework on evangelical worship styles or LGBQT+ teens), it does work well enough to be worth reading. ( )
  akblanchard | Jul 5, 2020 |
Great concept, but...
Six for Hicks is the perfect reality TV show starring the Hicks family. With father Hicks as the town preacher, the family seems to glow with godly light. All except Essie who is 17 and just found out she's pregnant.
The first few chapters were very intriguing but after that, things slowed to a crawl. There are sections and even chapters that could be completely taken out of the book and have it not hinder the story one bit. The writing itself was good but just WAY too much fluff.
The characters didn't seem real to me at all which may very well have been what the author was going for as they are a televised family. But for dealing with issues this serious, I felt that I needed a bit more emotion than what I was given. I mean when you put this many cliche teen-drama scenarios all into one book, you'd expect a lot more... drama. Instead it seemed to come up short and I found myself yelling at the characters more than anything. They just did not react realistically to their situations in my opinion.
This book has a great concept(s) but I just don't think it was executed quite right. I feel like there's too many unanswered questions and too many things that just didn't make sense because they were never fully explained. Again, the story (along with the characters) seemed very one-dimensional, which is wild considering how much fluff there is in this book. Weird right? Oh well, I digress.
Can't say I'd recommend this one. ( )
  SumisBooks | May 26, 2020 |
Compelling, multi-layered and important story! ( )
  steller0707 | May 21, 2020 |
17-year-old Essie has lived her entire life so far in front of cameras; her family are the stars of a reality TV show that follows them both in the huge church her father preaches to and in their daily lives. She has felt trapped and her life has been dictated entirely by her mother, but recent events have given her hope that she may be able to find a way out...
Oooof, but this is a good one. Very seat-edgy, with twists that you can sort of see coming, but hold your breath for anyway, and with a strong, well-crafted, and important message woven into the suspense and thrills. I loved the complicated characters - and loved to hate some of them. Definitely recommended. ( )
  electrascaife | Feb 2, 2020 |
The Book of Essie is a story of Essie, a 17 year old girl, whose family are famous due to her father's evangelical church. There are on TV and monitored nearly all the time. Everything she does falls under scrutiny. So, when it is discovered that she is pregnant, a solution to this 'problem' must be found.
Essie is smart and shrewd, and is calling the shots, although her parents are unaware that she is doing so. Essie enlists the help of a boy at school, Roarke, and another woman who was under a lot of scrutiny - Libby, or Liberty, Bell.
The three of them set out to take down Essie's family in a most satisfying way.
I really enjoyed this story, and I liked Essie's approach to things. I liked that she was practical but sincere in her plot. I liked how she was kind to Roarke. I also liked how she put her faith in Libby.
The three of them are misfits in a way, but are so likeable. Their faults add to their personality in good ways. I felt Essie's concern for others, the hurt she was enduring, and also her need to get away. I liked Roarke's vulnerability and his concern and compassion for Essie.
This is a story for our times. With all the TV evangelists and the constant media attention of reality TV stars - and keeping up appearances, The Book of Essie allows us to look at what is truly important, and worth fighting for in our lives. It is always about doing the right thing, protecting children, and being true to yourself. It is about being kind to others
#TheBookofEssie #MeghanMacLeanWeir ( )
  rmarcin | Dec 7, 2019 |
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For my family
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On the day I turn seventeen, there is a meeting to decide whether I should have the baby or if sneaking me to a clinic for an abortion is worth the PR risk.
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