The Book of Essie

The Book of Essie

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 phenome...

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Title:The Book of Essie
Author:Meghan MacLean Weir
Rating:
Edition Language:English

The Book of Essie Reviews

  • Chris

    Every once in a while, a novel comes along that is both timelessly beautiful and unbelievably timely. The Book of Essie is such a story. Meghan MacLean Weir has given us a young heroine who is at once authentic and courageous — and a tale that is wonderful and mysterious and relentlessly surprising.

  • Meredith B.  (readingwithmere)

    I finally finished another BOTM book in the same month I got it! I read this as a buddy read with the #essiebuddies on Instagram and it's really sparked some great stories and outlooks on mega churches and religious experiences!

    Essie is a seventeen year old girl. Her father is a Preacher in a Mega Church and her family are stars of the show Six for Hicks (Think Duggars but not as many kids). Essie is the youngest of the bunch. The family has one persona on the TV that people either lov

    I finally finished another BOTM book in the same month I got it! I read this as a buddy read with the #essiebuddies on Instagram and it's really sparked some great stories and outlooks on mega churches and religious experiences!

    Essie is a seventeen year old girl. Her father is a Preacher in a Mega Church and her family are stars of the show Six for Hicks (Think Duggars but not as many kids). Essie is the youngest of the bunch. The family has one persona on the TV that people either love or they love to hate. One day Essie's mother finds out that she's pregnant and instead of comforting her like a normal mom would, she goes into TV Production mode and decides what Essie should do so that it's best for the TV show.

    This book is told from three perspectives: Essie, Roauke and Liberty Bell. Each Character goes through their own journey throughout the book but they also all work together to potentially reach the same place in the end. Essie is trying to figure out if she wants to continue this TV life, Roauke is trying to save his family and Liberty Bell realize's Essie's story is closer to her heart then she realizes and struggles with reporting some of these stories for her job.

    This story brings about a lot of questions: Who can you really trust? How much of the media that we see on TV is actually real? Does money change people or can it convince people to do things that aren't necessarily right? Also the biggest question, who is the father? Was Essie messing around outside of her religious beliefs or could it be someone inside the church?

    I think the topic of religion can be a very sensitive one for some people. The author, Meghan MacLean Weir, did a fantastic job of telling some truths about situations that come up in church settings but she was careful to not do it in an offensive way. Also, for being a debut fiction novel she did a fantastic job!

    I highly recommend people pick this up. I honestly had a hard time putting it down. I recommend also reading with at least someone else to discuss as I mentioned there are a lot of questions that come up!

  • Larry H

    4.5 stars, rounded up.

    Praise the lord!

    How quick we are to judge people, even if (or especially) when we don't know them. This is even more the case where celebrities are concerned—we think we know the people we see on television or read about in magazines, yet quite often they're far more complex, and their lives are more complicated than we could ever imagine.

    Esther "Essie" Hicks has spent nearly every minute of her life in the public eye. Her family has been a reality show staple with

    4.5 stars, rounded up.

    Praise the lord!

    How quick we are to judge people, even if (or especially) when we don't know them. This is even more the case where celebrities are concerned—we think we know the people we see on television or read about in magazines, yet quite often they're far more complex, and their lives are more complicated than we could ever imagine.

    Esther "Essie" Hicks has spent nearly every minute of her life in the public eye. Her family has been a reality show staple with

    long before her birth. The world has been both fascinated and repelled by her mega-church preacher father, her iron-willed mother who pulls all of the strings, and her siblings, as they've grown into adulthood and lives of faith and service all their own.

    "Our family rejected materialism and popular culture and yet we also produced it. The show...paid for the SUVs Mother and Daddy drove, the lake house, the 'spiritual retreat' that was actually a villa in Saint John. It paid for the car seat I rode home in from the hospital, the muslin blankets I was swaddled in when I slept. It paid for my first backpack when it came time for me to go to school, Mother having by then completely abandoned giving lessons in the living room, not just because her time and energy were better spent promoting our brand but also because marketing said that what our audience wanted at that point was a character who was 'normal.'"

    When Essie's mother Celia discovers she is pregnant, she and the show's producers must decide what to do. Do they spirit Essie out of the country for an abortion? Do they hide Essie away and then pretend that Celia has given birth to a miracle baby so late in life? Or better yet, do they marry her off, thus reaping the incredible publicity which could accompany a whirlwind romance and storybook wedding?

    Celia doesn't realize that Essie is manipulating the situation, pairing herself off with a fellow classmate, Roarke Richards, despite the two of them never having spoken to one another. Roarke has his own secrets, but he is willing to help Essie sell their love story to the world. But once he finds himself part of the story, he realizes that there is far more to Essie than he ever believed, and she is not the judgmental, flighty sycophant he imagined she was.

    With the help of reporter Liberty Bell, once immersed in her own media spotlight in the world of ultra-conservative religion, Essie hopes to make her true story known once and for all. But in the meantime, she wants to know why her older sister left home a few years ago, never to return, and wonders whether she'll be willing to help her. However, Essie and Roarke have to be willing to pay a tremendously high price if they share the truth with the world. Are they?

    A meditation on the cult of celebrity and the hypocrisies they bring along,

    was pretty fantastic. I was hooked from start to finish, even though I had a feeling how much of the plot might unfold. We've seen people like these characters in the media, or perhaps we even know people in similar situations without the glare of the public eye, and yet the story was utterly fascinating.

    Certainly a story like this favors one "side" over another, but I liked the way that Meghan MacLean Weir didn't quite make Essie's family and others to be one-dimensional religious zealots. She certainly captured the fervor that conservative celebrities engender, and the issues they use to generate passion among their believers, but she didn't mock everyone with strong religious beliefs. She's a really talented storyteller, and she made you root for Essie and Roarke (and Liberty, too, to some extent).

    In a world where everyone is just one or two viral videos away from temporary fame,

    is a compelling, well-told look at how fame can be both a positive tool and a dangerous weapon, because of the way it can convince you that your version of reality is the right one. If you've ever wondered how a religious family might handle a scandal or two, this one's for you.

    See all of my reviews at

    , or check out my list of the best books I read in 2017 at

    .

  • Rose (Traveling Sister)

    BE STILL, MY HEART.

    I think it's fitting that I finished this book, just now, on my way to the beach. It's a place that makes me slightly uncomfortable but fascinates me nonetheless. It's a place where the land and sea and sky all meet to create a cleansing experience, both physically and mentally.

    After reading

    , I'm looking forward to that calm chaos. If it isn't glaringly obvious, I'm in a *mood* after this book, and I need to go to Contemplation Station.

    is ab

    BE STILL, MY HEART.

    I think it's fitting that I finished this book, just now, on my way to the beach. It's a place that makes me slightly uncomfortable but fascinates me nonetheless. It's a place where the land and sea and sky all meet to create a cleansing experience, both physically and mentally.

    After reading

    , I'm looking forward to that calm chaos. If it isn't glaringly obvious, I'm in a *mood* after this book, and I need to go to Contemplation Station.

    is about a young girl whose evangelical family has been featured on TV since before she was born. It obviously evokes certain TLC shows, but it isn't exploitative or sensationalist. It's raw and charming and heartbreaking and every other word inherent to a 5-star rating. There are themes of feminism and anti-consumerism and anti-radical religion; however, it's well-balanced and doesn't come across as fierce or vindictive or bitter.

    I know it isn't the best reading habit, but I don't much care for long-winded tomes and often skip them over in favor of 300-400 pagers. I appreciate economy of language and the way authors can fit so much into a reasonable amount of pages. It takes discipline and censorship. It requires keeping only the best and most necessary sentences. Also I can be lazy AF.

    The fact that Weir was able to accomplish such a neat and well-rounded book, as a physician writing her first work of fiction, is #Litspiration x1000. That being said, I could have stayed with these characters for much longer than 320 pages. There weren't any major questions left unanswered, but it did feel rushed in places.

    I don't want to give away too much, but just trust that the character development and attention to detail are on point. I'll part with one of my favorite quotes that I think illustrates this:

    "She says this as if my 'situation,' as she puts it, has nothing to do with her, at least not directly, as if it is not in any way her fault. Mother sighs and looks vacantly toward the window. I can tell that she is not really looking out at the fragile splendor of the cherry tree, which is in full blossom, but is instead considering whether enough time has passed for her to replace the drapes."

    Now I'm off to splay myself on my new Celtics beach towel and channel my inner bronze goddess.

  • JanB

    Essie has been living her entire life under the glare of TV cameras. She’s the youngest of 6 kids on a reality TV show called 'Six for Hicks'. Her father is an evangelical minister and her mother is the woman behind the man, a devout and demure wife and mother. At least in front of the camera.

    The only problem is little of what the public sees on TV is real. And now 17 year old Essie is pregnant and their public image (and sole means of their considerable wealth) is threatened, unless a plan can

    Essie has been living her entire life under the glare of TV cameras. She’s the youngest of 6 kids on a reality TV show called 'Six for Hicks'. Her father is an evangelical minister and her mother is the woman behind the man, a devout and demure wife and mother. At least in front of the camera.

    The only problem is little of what the public sees on TV is real. And now 17 year old Essie is pregnant and their public image (and sole means of their considerable wealth) is threatened, unless a plan can be devised to explain and salvage this domestic disaster.

    
The mother comes up with a plan for public consumption, but Essie has a plan of her own. A plan that will blow up her family’s image. Essie employs the help of a reporter to put the plan into motion. Essie’s resourcefulness and mental toughness is a pleasure to behold and she is a terrific character. Told from three POV, there are plenty of twists and turns that kept me flipping the pages. When the truth is revealed it's explosive and quite a twist!

    There’s no need to be a fan of reality TV to enjoy this book. I’m not and I was riveted until the last page was turned. Highly recommended!

  • Maxwell

    [3.5 stars]

    I thought this book was very addictive, especially towards the beginning. The premise alone is very intriguing and I really wanted to know what was going to happen. But after about the 2/3 mark of the story, it kind of went exactly where I was expecting, and by the end I was slightly underwhelmed. In the beginning I was hoping for some big twist or some unexpected element that would have pushed this to a 4 or even 5 star book, but I could see once I got farther in that it was going to

    [3.5 stars]

    I thought this book was very addictive, especially towards the beginning. The premise alone is very intriguing and I really wanted to know what was going to happen. But after about the 2/3 mark of the story, it kind of went exactly where I was expecting, and by the end I was slightly underwhelmed. In the beginning I was hoping for some big twist or some unexpected element that would have pushed this to a 4 or even 5 star book, but I could see once I got farther in that it was going to be more straightforward. And don't get me wrong, the writing is nice and the 3 narrators are all very well crafted, but the story loses some of its steam as you go along. It sort of is like reality TV, which the book deals with—at first it's super satisfying and you can't stop, but then it gets a bit too much and you lose interest. Ultimately, I felt the author's voice come through too much, rather than letting the characters speak for themselves. That's a bit of a pet peeve for me and can take me out of the story.

  • Vanessa

    Interesting concept, I did enjoy the idea of the book better than the execution. It had all the makings for an excellent read. However I did not fully buy into the characters and storyline, it was all too contrived, with too many themes thrown at you, it was hard to care about the main issue which was a pretty big deal and a major whammy which should have felt like a pivotal moment, instead it felt like it was barely addressed. I should have felt rage and anger but instead I felt nothing. I felt

    Interesting concept, I did enjoy the idea of the book better than the execution. It had all the makings for an excellent read. However I did not fully buy into the characters and storyline, it was all too contrived, with too many themes thrown at you, it was hard to care about the main issue which was a pretty big deal and a major whammy which should have felt like a pivotal moment, instead it felt like it was barely addressed. I should have felt rage and anger but instead I felt nothing. I felt slightly ripped off. Like the characters couldn’t muster the energy so neither could I. It was like the author decided one main theme wasn’t enough so she threw them all in and it’s because of this I felt the book faltered. If only the author concentrated on the main issue of Essie’s dilemma this might have been a way better book.

  • Lola

    TRIGGER WARNING – Abuse.

    For a long time, I didn’t read stories with religious themes. Not because I was prejudiced against them. On the contrary, I tried a few when I was a teen, and they seemed too ‘‘preachy’’ for me.

    So because I had bad experiences with those, I thought the theme was just, well, not for me. Little did I know, not all books exploring similar themes and topics read the same way and include the same content.

    In this case, for instance, while Essie’s family is religious – clearly,

    TRIGGER WARNING – Abuse.

    For a long time, I didn’t read stories with religious themes. Not because I was prejudiced against them. On the contrary, I tried a few when I was a teen, and they seemed too ‘‘preachy’’ for me.

    So because I had bad experiences with those, I thought the theme was just, well, not for me. Little did I know, not all books exploring similar themes and topics read the same way and include the same content.

    In this case, for instance, while Essie’s family is religious – clearly, her father being a Father and all – and she herself believes in the word of God, she doesn’t spend 320 pages trying to convert us. That’s not what this book is about.

    Religion has its role, because Essie’s pregnancy affects her Mother (and her, duh), who then orchestrates a fake marriage so they can play off the pregnancy as a post-marriage gift or something of the like and save face on their reality TV show that follows their every move.

    But this is a book for everyone, religious or not. Because it’s important we talk about abuse and empower women to take a stand against it.

    For a bit, I thought I would be disappointed by this book, seeing that I was afraid it would go in a completely different direction than I expected (if you’ve read the book, you know exactly what I’m referring to), but the author managed to please me with her clever tactics and wonderful storytelling skills. Needless to say, I was on the edge of my seat!

    We have three 1st person POVs – Essie’s (of course), Liberty’s (a reporter) and Roarke’s (the husband prospect). Essie and Liberty’s narration pieces were very interesting and truly added to the story. Roarke’s chapters, however, made me yawn. There is stuff going on in his life and he does have a secret, but this is not his story. It’s Essie’s and Liberty’s. Their backgrounds intertwine in a curious way, whereas Roarke’s is quite limited and his secret easy to guess. He spends a lot of time thinking about what other people are thinking and doing and giving his opinion. But not doing much himself.

    This brings me to my second point: this could have been shorter, certainly, if Roarke’s chapters were removed or limited to one or two.

    That being said, this was well-written, smart, important and the ending satisfying. It took me longer to read than I wanted to, since I got distracted watching

    haha, but I’m glad I gave it a chance.

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  • Book of the Month

    Why I Love It

    by Troian Bellisario

    Alright, confession time:

    I’m sorry, but I just don’t get it. So when I began reading

    , a story about a 17-year-old woman who’s spent her whole life on a reality TV show, I was worried to say the least. Worried, that is, until I realized that this surprisingly gritty girl was actually planning to blow up the show (and her family’s image) from the inside, and she had just the plan to do it.

    Essie is the younges

    Why I Love It

    by Troian Bellisario

    Alright, confession time:

    I’m sorry, but I just don’t get it. So when I began reading

    , a story about a 17-year-old woman who’s spent her whole life on a reality TV show, I was worried to say the least. Worried, that is, until I realized that this surprisingly gritty girl was actually planning to blow up the show (and her family’s image) from the inside, and she had just the plan to do it.

    Essie is the youngest child on

    , a nationally beloved and carefully orchestrated “reality” TV sensation. Her father, an Evangelical pastor, leads a congregation of thousands while her mother—who plays the devout and demure wife on camera—masterminds the public unfolding of his, Essie’s, and the rest of the brood’s every move with Lady Macbethian machinations. The family facade only threatens to crumble when Essie reveals to her family that she’s pregnant … a secret that will ruin their righteous reputation. Not surprisingly, her mother has a PR plan. But—for the first time ever—Essie, too, has her own ideas about what to tell the public, and how.

    Watching Essie escape the prison that has been her whole life is breathtaking. Though raised to breathe lies and perform on a dime, her fearlessness, cunning, and authenticity had me cheering through each chapter. It doesn’t matter if you like reality TV or not,

    is an explosive, plot-twisting, gut-punch of a novel that will keep you turning the pages and never wanting to change the channel.

    Read more at:

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