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All booksLiterary fictionThe Book of Essie
The Book of Essie by Meghan MacLean Weir
Literary fiction

The Book of Essie

We love supporting debut authors. Congrats, Meghan MacLean Weir, on your first book!

by Meghan MacLean Weir

Quick take

When the teenage star of a Christian reality TV show gets pregnant, will it blow up her life, or just her ratings?

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_FastRead

    Fast read

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Feminist


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_FamilyDrama

    Family drama

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_LGBTQ

    LGBTQ+ themes

Troian Bellisario is an actress who starred in the hit TV series Pretty Little Liars

Why I love it

Troian Bellisario
Guest Judge

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.

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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?

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Member thoughts

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All (7693)
Love (3960)
Like (3355)
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7853 ratings
  • 50% Love
  • 43% Like
  • 5% Dislike
  • Minneapolis, MN

    As someone who has been grossly fascinated with The Duggar’s like I’m watching a car crash, it was so great to hear a story like this where the narrator comes out “okay” after growing up in this life.

  • Washington, DC

    While a little predictable, The Book of Essie showcases Essie’s strength and features Essie’s accepting relationship with Rourke. I love how this book showcased people’s duplicity and subtler natures

  • Trevor, WI

    This was an unexpected win for me. Completely out of the realm of what I normally would chose, but I’m glad I did. Some parts of the storyline didn’t mesh well for me, but overall, wow. Worth reading.

  • Mesa, AZ

    Loved this book. It’s a compilation of “ripped from the headlines” stories, I recognized the Buddy bros, David Koresh, the Dugger family, the Duck Dynasty crew. Great summer read. Perfect for beach.

  • Rochester , NY

    From the bio I wasn’t sure i would like it but I’m glad I got it! Really enjoyable read, I haven’t even finished it yet and I’m trying to have my boyfriend read it and recommending it to friends!

  • Las Vegas, NV

    I read this book so fast. It makes you want to keep flipping the pages! The story is about a 17 year old tv star named Essie. She gets pregnant and her mom tries to cover her “mistake”. It’s insane!

  • Stuyvesant, NY

    The Book of Essie is a slow start but picks up nicely. The suspense of “who done it” was done well. All together I would say that I would recommend this book to any reader, regardless of normal topic.

  • Bloomington, MN

    The Book of Essie kept me on my seat and wanting to know what’s next. So much so that I read it in a day! Essie’s character is brilliant and I loved how it was very relatable to modern day reality TV.

  • Mount Pleasant , TX

    Stunning. From the beginning you’re hooked and stuck somewhere between a loss for words and overwhelmed with joy. I finished this book in less than 24 hours because each page ends before you’re ready.

  • Goose Creek , SC

    I don’t even know how to put what I’m feeling into words. Weir’s writing was beautiful and the story was so well thought out. This is such a powerful story for what’s going on in the world today.

  • North Port, FL

    I really appreciate this being written, as someone who grew up in the subculture it is examining. I’d never gotten to share those feelings with a book character before, but Libby was cathartic for me.

  • Colorado Springs, CO

    While obviously the whole premise of this book is horrible, I couldn’t look away. I thought when the plot twist was given away early, the rest of the book would drag but that was not the case at all.

  • Edgewater, FL

    The three perspectives of Essie, Libby and Rourke really make you feel as if your reading one perspective but from many different voices. It’s quite captivating and allows you to visualize differently

  • Corona, CA

    I devoured TBoE. I respect Weir’s message about hypocrisy & how appearance/reality can greatly diverge. While some parts were a little too on the nose, Weir’s execution makes this an addicting read.

  • Little Rock , AR

    An intriguing look at the reality tv and the images we portray to the world. This book discusses a lot of heavy topics but doesn't go as deep as these themes deserve. Overall, I enjoyed it–quick read!

  • Forest, VA

    I. Just. Loved. This. Book. I read it in one day and could not put it down. The way the main character is always one step ahead makes you keep guessing and thinking about what’s going to happen next.

  • Aberdeen, WA

    Its a fictional version of the 19 kids and counting family...sexual abuse and all. I loved Roarke and Essie’s friendship. This book sheds a light on the injustices women face in sexual abuse cases.

  • Chicago, IL

    I loved this book! I thought it was a really interesting premise with a lot of campy reality tv vibes. I wish the ending didn’t feel so rushed but I loved zipping through this novel to find out the en

  • Alexandria , VA

    This book showed how strong someone can be when faced with some horrible life circumstances. It showed a true friendship blossom in ways you wouldn’t expect and gave me hope for other girls like Essie

  • Richmond, VA

    Wow, page turner! Something about the way this was written & the small reveals throughout made me finish in warp speed. Didn’t feel entirely plausible and I had some small issues, but enjoyed overall!

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