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The Book of Essie

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Goodreads Choice Award
Nominee for Best Fiction (2018)
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?

319 pages, Hardcover

First published June 12, 2018

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Meghan MacLean Weir

3 books299 followers

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5 stars
7,966 (26%)
4 stars
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3 stars
6,898 (22%)
2 stars
1,349 (4%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 3,601 reviews
Profile Image for Larry H.
2,484 reviews29.4k followers
July 2, 2018
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 Six for Hicks 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, The Book of Essie 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, The Book of Essie 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 itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com, or check out my list of the best books I read in 2017 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2018/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2017.html.
Profile Image for Meredith B.  (readingwithmere).
235 reviews159 followers
June 20, 2018
4.5 Stars!

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!
Profile Image for Maxwell.
1,137 reviews8,151 followers
June 22, 2018
[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.
Profile Image for Chris.
Author 36 books11.3k followers
February 2, 2018
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.
Profile Image for Vanessa.
462 reviews290 followers
July 11, 2018
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.
Profile Image for Susan's Reviews.
1,077 reviews495 followers
December 2, 2021
This was an incredible story with a horrifying reveal/twist!

Esther's parents are the "stars" of a reality tv show, "Six For Hicks". Her father is a televangelist and her mother enjoys playing the matriarch. Of course, their actual lives behind the camera lens cannot be more different.

Seventeen year old Esther is a statistic: despite her careful upbringing in the public eye, her mother discovers that Esther is pregnant. Esther overhears her mother coldly scheming with her assistants about how to handle the potential scandal. Decisions are being made for Esther, whether she approves of them or not: should they sneak her away to have an abortion? Send her off on a fictitious mission until after the baby is born? Or should they find a husband for Esther and stage an elaborate wedding? They decide on the latter.

Roarke is roped into agreeing to marry Esther. His father's business is in financial difficulty and this sham marriage would solve his family's financial woes. The Hicks are willing to pay any price to avoid a ratings drop!

But who is the real father of Esther's child? Why did Esther's sister, Lissa, leave the fold and turn her back on the family? And will Esther have the courage to expose the horrific hypocrisy of her family life?

Esther is strong and wise beyond her years. It must have been devastating for her to realize that her parents would not help her or protect her, becoming complicit in the horrible crime that has left Esther pregnant at 17. Okay, there will be no more vague spoilers from me!

This very well written story will sadden your heart, as it did mine, but Esther and Roarke and all the young people in this novel will surprise you with their resilience and their willingness to band together to help Esther, when the adults in her life do not.
Highly recommended!

N.B. The author's father is a pastor, so you needn't fear that this is some form of rant against religion. I think the focus is more on BOGUS, self-serving operations like the one in this story that prey on their viewers and members.
Profile Image for JanB .
1,146 reviews2,532 followers
July 24, 2018
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!
Profile Image for Book of the Month.
229 reviews12.6k followers
June 1, 2018
Why I Love It
by Troian Bellisario

Alright, confession time: I am NOT a fan of reality television. I’m sorry, but I just don’t get it. So when I began reading The Book of Essie, 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 Six for Hicks, 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, The Book of Essie 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: https://www.bookofthemonth.com/the-bo...
Profile Image for Kelli.
851 reviews395 followers
November 21, 2018
For its gorgeous cover and fascinating author profile, this book took me forever to finish. What started out as simply compelling devolved into a convoluted slog. There were so (too?!) many important issues present in this story that deserved more complex exploration than they were given. These were life-changing issues, yet a lack of character depth made it difficult for me to form a connection with anyone. There were also some unanswered questions and an element of predictably. Disappointing in that respect, but this is still a 3 star book for me.
Profile Image for Caro (Bookaria).
615 reviews19.5k followers
September 26, 2018
There is something about the prelude to imminent scandal that hooks me to a novel.

Only in books though since I don't watch much TV or have an interest in real-life drama. The fact remains that I did not expect to be so drawn into this story as I was!

Esther Hicks (or Essie) becomes pregnant at seventeen. She is the daughter of a well-known evangelical preacher and has grown up under the scrutiny of the media due to her parents' successful TV show Six for Hicks.

This was an interesting and compelling story. The characters are complex and I enjoyed how centered and sensible Essie is given the circumstances surrounding her. I cannot reveal much about the rest of the characters to avoid spoilers, just know that this was an appealing and engaging novel.

Overall, I enjoyed it and recommend it to readers of contemporary fiction.
Profile Image for Chelsea (chelseadolling reads).
1,478 reviews19.3k followers
July 27, 2018
This was an extremely addicting story that covered a lot of really heavy topics (tw: sexual assault, teen pregnancy, abuse, religion), but honestly overall it felt like TOO MUCH was happening. I’d definitely say it’s worth a read if the subject matter interests you, but I personally didn’t get a lot out of this one.
Profile Image for Rebecca.
242 reviews16 followers
June 17, 2018
I was super disappointed by this book. For the heavy subject matter this book deals in, the tone feels much too light. On top of that, characters don't really act (and react) like real people. I went into this with expectations it was adult literary fiction, but it read like YA, with three alternating first person narrators, two of whom are teenagers. There's nothing wrong with that, and I've read some excellent YA that does handle serious topics like the ones in this book very well, but the combination of all these elements just made for a very odd reading experience.

While not on the level of complaint I have for the way topics are handled, I also wasn't a fan of the way the story was written. There was the occasional awkward metaphor, but mainly there was a lot of: interesting action moving the plot forward, then two page wander off into the bushes about past event, sometimes with additional wandering to an even further past event within that. I despise that technique. Just move the story forward. Don't put flashbacks and long memories in every chapter.
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
4,010 reviews33 followers
December 30, 2018
A family in the spotlight..... the ultimate - reality TV. I don’t even watch these type of shows ... “Big Brother?”.... but it doesn’t matter if the reader is a fan or not!

Addictive page turning from start to finish - it has everything one could ask for from a contemporary fiction novel. It’s SO GOOD!!!!!!
Great characters, excellent engaging points of views, terrific storyline, with many thought-provoking issues.

When a mother - Celia - plans to engineer an arranged marriage for her 17 year old pregnant daughter, Essie, ( as she has her entire life since birth: control her choices), to Roarke, the local football star, .... Essie has a different plan. Essie and Roarke plan to escape their small town. They get help from journalist, Liberty Bell who has her own issues. We are rooting for Essie. Seventeen years of following her parents rules and agendas is enough.

Many themes of importance are covered: teen pregnancy, gay rights, betrayal, trust, religion, shame, fame, hypocrisy, politics, corruption, ego, sexual abuse, secrets, hope and vulnerability.

Besides many questions the reader has along the way -
The story leaves a punch:
Essie’s story is a great example of how we would rather turn a blind eye and avoid the truth of what’s really going on.....for the sake of keeping up appearances.

Terrific debut novel! I had no idea it would be this enjoyable. Essie is an awesome heroine!
Profile Image for Marialyce .
1,983 reviews716 followers
October 4, 2018
4.5 illusion is on the outside while reality is what is within stars
My reviews can be seen here: https://yayareadslotsofbooks.wordpres...

Essie is the daughter of a powerful rich family who make their fortune through the use of reality TV, featuring a religious theme. She and her siblings are constantly in the spotlight, giving up their lives to the eyes of the viewing public. They are controlled, given no free choice, and are literally pawns of the concept of money, superiority and supremacy. They, governed by Essie's mother, are the antithesis of perfect living, of morals beyond reproach, and a lifestyle that is always under a microscope through the cameras and the staged events that are witnessed. All looks to the eye perfect. The family is perfection but there is soon to be a huge black eye to their image. For seventeen year old Essie is pregnant, and the scheme the family concocts, plus the reveal of the father of Essie's child, produces a riveting page turning novel.

Meghan MacLean has crafted a novel that poses some fine observations about what we see on reality TV. The staging, the coverups, the lies are portrayed for the reader as we go behind the scenes and discover the true nature of what you present to the public is never really your true face. There is no such thing as perfection, especially when it comes to family life. People who think their family is faultless, are presenting to us an ideal to make themselves feel important, but we all know deep inside that their pretense rings false.

I recommend this book, for it does present a serious look at a culture that oftentimes believes everything it sees and hears. I heard it on TV, saw it on Facebook, Instagram etc. means it must be true. The first line of this book says it all....“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. I am not invited, which is just as well, since my being there might imply that I have some choice in the matter and I know that I have none.” Such is the world where lives are governed by a camera.

Kudos once again to my local library always there providing us with hours of thrilling reading.
Profile Image for Helene Jeppesen.
685 reviews3,642 followers
August 2, 2018
To begin with, this book intrigued me because it comes with a really special and time-equivalent plot: We follow a religious, American family who are also starring in their own, national reality tv show. The contrast between the religious , unmaterialistic life and the glittery reality life is highlighted from the beginning when Essie, the protagonist, is listening in on her mother having a discussion with the producer about Essie’s pregnancy and what to do with it.
But I didn’t much like how this book developed and became a questionable story defined by irrational decisions. Some plot points, which I found were important to address, weren’t addressed at all, and the characters’ behaviour just didn’t seem realistic to me.
Furthermore, I also felt like the author revealed the big twist too early in the story, so that the rest of the book becomes somewhat uninteresting because you already know how everything is going to play out. The strong part about the first half of the novel was exactly that you knew something big was coming, but you didn’t know what.
All in all, this was an interesting concept, but halfway through the book the author somehow lost me. The ending especially felt very anti-climatic and also too easy, which makes this an enjoyable, but not a favourite, read.
Profile Image for Gabby.
1,236 reviews26.7k followers
September 26, 2018
Well this was quite a surprise. I normally don't read books that revolve around religion, because I'm not a religious person and it just doesn't interest me. But I do love reading books that revolve around a celebrity-type main character dealing with the public and the media and all the scandal. It's a guilty pleasure okay?

This story follows 17-year-old Essie Hicks, who is the youngest daughter on her family's reality show Six For Hicks. Their family is incredibly famous because of their reality show, and they are famous because her Dad is a preacher and their family is incredibly religious. They discover Essie is pregnant and her family basically freaks the fuck out and wants to avoid a huge scandal in the media, so they force her to marry a boy her age.

I really love Essie's character in this book. I think she's strong and brave and open-minded (unlike her family), and I love that she's trying to do what's right. Also, for some reason I kept picturing Saoirse Ronan in her Lady Bird phase as Essie Hicks.

I absolutely adored the hell out of Roarke, even more so when I found out So naturally I pictured Timothee Chalamet in his Lady Bird phase as Roarke.

This book got a lot more dark than I was initially expecting. There are trigger warnings for abuse, rape, etc. I thought this book was going to be a bit more light-hearted because of the reality show aspect of it, but it got really dark towards the end.

The only reason I knocked off a star is because I didn't see the point of Libery's chapters. I understand her purpose in the story, but I didn't enjoy reading her POV chapters and I couldn't wait to get to the next chapter from Essie and Roarke's POV's. I think this book would've been so much better without Liberty's chapters.

Overall, I'm really impressed. It was better than I thought it would be. If you enjoy books revolving around powerful issues that should be talked about more - I recommend this book!
Profile Image for monica kim.
202 reviews6,072 followers
August 14, 2018
still contemplating this one, but tw for sexual assault/rape
91 reviews1 follower
March 18, 2018
I liked this well enough to keep going, but it was extremely predictable. It is an easy fast read. Nothing challenging or special about the book. Maybe even a little on the YA side. It brushes on some serious issues, but never gets deep into them. It is more on the feelings of the characters. I left the book feeling very unsatisfied. I loved Rourke but felt the author didn't give him enough voice and brushed over his issues. Without giving any spoilers, I felt the two main issues with Esse and the family’s response were not realistic. I also felt this was a retelling of the show Nineteen kids and counting. Too many similarities of the Duggar family to make it a coincidence.
Profile Image for Jamie Rosenblit.
905 reviews510 followers
June 13, 2018
I don’t think I could shout from any more rooftops how much I LOVED #TheBookOfEssie by @meghanmacleanweir - 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. .
Profile Image for Sarah.
1,700 reviews42 followers
March 9, 2018
Whoa! I am not sure I know how to put into words the way I felt after reading this book. Sick to my stomach for one thing; the subject matter is highly disturbing. Yet, at the same time, there is no denying the novel is utterly riveting. My three star rating has nothing to do with the quality of writing nor the engrossing aspect of the book. Rather, I deducted points because it is so very, very unsettling.
Certainly playing well into the times in which we live, The Book of Essie centers around a reality TV show family. The patriarch is the pastor of a small town mega church. Not only is his ministry broadcast but the life of his family as well. It is his wife, Celia, who clearly steers the ship. So, when youngest daughter, Esther becomes pregnant at age seventeen the family's empire is at risk. The scheme that Celia concocts in order to maintain their "pure" public image and bolster ratings is beyond the pale. But, Essie herself has a few tricks up her sleeve; she is unwilling to enter helplessly into an arranged marriage.
What disturbed me the most about this book was its portrayal of the church and Christians in general. Ironically, while trying to make a point about being judgmental and stereotyping, this portrayal did precisely that. This mega-star reality TV family is hypocritical and strays far from the Biblical ideal for believers. I have grown weary of the negative depiction of the church and Christians. That is not to say there are not those who claim to be believers yet embody evil. However, that is not the case the majority of the time and I bristle at the continued effort to demonize what can be truly wonderful.
Absorbing read, well written timely. Also unsettling and presents an ugly image of the church.
Profile Image for Barbara.
1,342 reviews701 followers
September 24, 2018
“The Book of Essie” by Meghan Weir is a slow burn suspense novel featuring an Evangelical family who has made a fortune publicizing the family in a TV reality shows “Six for Hicks”. Given our current society’s appetite for reality TV, Weir is able to write a believable story.

Weir uses the device of using multiple narrators. I’m a huge fan of this device as it adds layers to the story. Essie begins the tale immediately telling the reader that she is seventeen and pregnant. This “problem” is being discussed with the show’s producers, and Essie isn’t invited to the discussion. Yet Essie has plans of her own. She has paid attention to how things are settled in the family, so she knows she needs to do some manipulation of her own to get the outcome she wants. She understands that the show will make her keep her baby and get married. So Essie designs a plot to write her own narrative. She suggests a boy with a family with financial problems who could be the perfect candidate for a husband.

The next narrator is Roarke, who is a star baseball player and will be the valedictorian of his class. He’s from a working class family and has worked hard for everything he has received. His family owns a sporting goods store which is experiencing financial issues. Suddenly, Roarke becomes a pawn in drama that he did not sign up for.

Liberty Bell is the third narrator. Liberty is a reporter with a local TV station. Liberty has a background in religious zealous cults. Her mother was a follower of a cult leader and Liberty and her sister, Justice, were both living at the whim of a fanatical cult leader and her submissive mother. Essie contacts Liberty to get her to tell Essie’s story. Essie needs Liberty for Essie’s own freedom.

All three narrators provide their inner musings. Although it’s a page-turning suspense, this novel is also a coming-of-age story of the three protagonists. There is much criticism that the voices of the three narrators are similar. Perhaps, but I didn’t find that distracting from the story.

As the book jacket states: “The Book of Essie” brilliantly explores our darkest cultural obsessions: celebrity, class, bigotry, and media. I recommend this as a novel brings our reality TV culture to light.
Profile Image for Katie B.
1,294 reviews2,964 followers
April 23, 2018
Seventeen year old Essie Hicks has grown up in front of the camera. Her religious family are the stars of the hit reality program, Six for Hicks. Essie's mother, Celia, is mortified when she finds out Essie is pregnant but she comes up with a plan so the rest of the world won't find out the awful truth. Essie though has a plan of her own and she is going to enlist the help of Roarke, a boy at school who won't give her the time of day, and Liberty, a reporter who knows what it's like to live your life in the spotlight. But what price is Essie willing to pay for her freedom?

Imagine if one of the Duggar girls attempted to break free from her family, that's pretty much what this book is like. I absolutely loved watching Essie try to outsmart everyone in order to try and lead a more normal life. Sure, there are parts of the story that might not be entirely realistic but it really was a good read with characters that were easy to root for. I didn't particularly care for most of Liberty's story line but it did help tie in everything together. Definitely recommend especially if you like to watch family based reality television shows as it gives a behind the scenes type glimpse into how these shows are produced.

Thank you to First to Read for the opportunity to read an advance digital copy! I was under no obligation to post a review and all views expressed are my honest opinion.
Profile Image for Iulia.
203 reviews91 followers
January 12, 2019
This book was heavy. What I found most surprising was that it managed to keep me engaged up until the very end, on the edge of my seat. As for the subject matter, The Book of Essie tackles an amazing range of topics such as abuse, cultism, psychopathy and many more which I won't mention due to spoilers. Even with religion taking center stage, it does not become preachy at any point, which was something I fully appreciated. Unfortunately, there were some issues when it came to plot and character development, and often it felt like it was rushed and unrealistic, which is why I rated it 4* instead of 5*. However, the book's ultimate message is important and meaningful and I believe it should be a must-read for women and girls everywhere.
Profile Image for Deacon Tom F.
1,772 reviews133 followers
January 15, 2021
I very much enjoyed the twists and turns of “Book of Essie” by Meghan MacLean Weir.

The characters are very well constructed. Essie and Roark are well written characters with a myriad of hidden secrets. Together they take on the media and the Evangelical religious Community.

The plot focused on a reality show, star of the family’s hit reality show Six for Hicks--Essie. The secrets of sexual abuse, misuse of donations, hypocrisy of image, LGBT community issues all could cause significant damage to many people.

The story is a powerful expose’ of the hypocrisy of the TV evangelists who create enormous wealth and oftentimes hide sinful lifestyles.

On the drama goes as secrets continue to be uncovered until the final pages.

I recommend this book.
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