The Book of Essie

A Novel
Length: 11 hrs and 4 mins
Categories: Fiction, Literary
4.5 out of 5 stars (1,081 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Finalist for the 2018 New England Book Award

"Both timelessly beautiful and unbelievably timely." (Chris Bohjalian, New York Times best-selling author of Midwives and The Flight Attendant)

A captivating novel of family, fame, and religion that tells the story of the 17-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? Whom can she trust with the truth about her family? And how much is she willing to sacrifice to win her own freedom?

©2018 Meghan MacLean Weir (P)2018 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

“I was immediately captivated by The Book of Essie, a unique and moving story about a young woman whose life has been hijacked by fame, family and faith - and her spectacular, surprising plot to take it back.” (Vanessa Diffenbaugh, best-selling author of The Language of Flowers and We Never Asked for Wings)

"A resourceful, resilient teen heroine is at the heart of Meghan MacLean Weir's propulsive debut novel... Weir is also adept at using the language of evangelical life, lending an authenticity that takes the book beyond a Duggar-family pastiche. The tentative trust that grows between Essie and Roarke gives The Book of Essie emotional depth, and the questions at its center have a surprising moral weight. Readers will root for Essie through every twist and turn of her story." (Trisha Ping, BookPage)

"The youngest daughter of an Evangelical preacher-turned-reality TV star hatches a plan to wrangle her freedom - and expose the dark truth about her family - in Weir's debut novel... Deeply sympathetic...well-paced...and the unexpected tenderness between Essie and Roarke gives the novel genuine emotional punch." (Kirkus)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Hope for the future 💗

I hardly ever write reviews. This one was worth my time. Growing up in a church that believed All other Faiths and beliefs were going to Hell I found the story very relatable. The narration was perfect. I go through 2-3 books a week and this is the first in months I could not just skip over reviewing and go on to the next. I’ll be passing it on as well. Def credit worthy!!

19 people found this helpful

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A timely tale

This was an interesting look at the 24-hr news cycle, reality TV, binge watching, times we are currently in. The book follows Essie, a member of a reality TV family that has captured the eyes of the world. When her life takes an unexpected turn, the family has to figure out how to present it to the media in the best light possible, but Essie has her own agenda.

I liked how the book split narrators up so you saw the situation from a different point of view constantly. I felt it had a good plot line and interesting characters

17 people found this helpful

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Ripped from the headlines

Essie is my new hero. I seem to have read a lot of books about downtrodden or abused women. But at least this one has a great ending. I'm reminded of the wackadoodle family on TV with 19 kids.... Children forced to endure endless camera angles and growing up in the spotlight. How normal can they be? Not very....
The parents are portrayed as self righteous, intolerant, and more interested in the money they make with the variety of media exposures they receive, not to mention the mega church.... Essie, forced into a marriage of convenience when it is discovered she is pregnant, has schemes of her own.... not only to save herself, but to save her new husband. A story of redemption for sure.

9 people found this helpful

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More Believable than the Blurb Led Me to Believe

Very interesting book with several twists and turns I didn't expect. There were some slow patches, especially in the Libby Bell sections, but overall the plot was tight and moved smoothly. The main characters were sympathetic and the villains were sufficiently villainous. Essie's sometimes detachment about her situation and the terrible things done to here was at first unbelievable, but then the author skillfully made it a coping method. I wish there had been a little more information at the end. What happened to Essie's parents, their TV show, fortune, church? But wanting more at the end of a book is a sign the reader is committed to the book, so that's a good thing.

7 people found this helpful

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Wow!

This book was just incredible. The story was a heartbreaking one of redemption. I can’t recommend it enough! Excellent reading on audio too!

6 people found this helpful

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wonderful and moving

I loved this book so very much! Although the subject matter is upsetting, it's handled with grace.

5 people found this helpful

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Great Book

This book had my attention from the start. I kept trying to guess where it was going, but was always wrong. I love that it has three different narrators so you know whose story you are hearing. I highly recommend this book!

4 people found this helpful

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Great! I finished the book in one day.

Great! I finished the book and one day. I see some resemblance to stories from the news about a few mega families and Christian churches. The narrator's did a great job.

4 people found this helpful

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The Book of Essie

This would not have been a book to pick up and read on 1st browse. However, it came recommended through our book club, and turned out to be a great story!

3 people found this helpful

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Great reminder of why we shouldn’t judge others!

This book is an excellent depiction of how we watch reality tv and actually believe it is real when it isn’t. Essie’s story is a great example of how we would rather turn a blind eye to what is really going on in order to keep up appearances. It is a great read!

3 people found this helpful