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The Book of Essie by Meghan MacLean Weir

Literary fiction

The Book of Essie

Debut

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

by Meghan MacLean Weir

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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, Fast_Read

    Fast read

  • Illustrated icon, Feminist

    Feminist

  • Illustrated icon, Family_Drama

    Family drama

  • Illustrated icon, LGBTQ_themes

    LGBTQ+ themes

Synopsis

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?

Why I love it

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.

Member ratings (8,506)

  • Katie J.

    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.

  • Naina S.

    Alexandria, VA

    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

  • Paige K.

    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.

  • Chelsea C.

    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.

  • Rebekah B.

    Arlington, 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.

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Literary fiction
View all
Real Americans
Wellness
Annie Bot
Margo’s Got Money Troubles
Mercury
True Biz
The Husbands
The Lady Waiting
The Other Valley
Hard by a Great Forest
Good Material
The Bullet Swallower
Alice Sadie Celine
Let Us Descend
Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow
Banyan Moon
Shark Heart
Transcendent Kingdom
Hello Beautiful
Dominicana
What's Mine and Yours
The Unsettled
Ask Again, Yes
Vladimir
Infinite Country
The Prophets
Normal People
The Verifiers
Salvage the Bones
The Many Daughters of Afong Moy
I Have Some Questions for You
Black Buck
The History of Love
Age of Vice
Paper Names
The Light Pirate
The Secret History
The Kite Runner
Memorial
The Half Moon
Happiness Falls
The Gifted School
The Death of Vivek Oji
The Knockout Queen
Little Monsters
Yerba Buena
Beautiful World, Where Are You
Free Food for Millionaires
A Burning
The Mothers
The Water Dancer
Small Country
The Sympathizer
Fleishman Is in Trouble
Lot
An American Marriage
The Animators
The Leavers
The Mars Room
Exit West
The Windfall
White Fur
Woman No. 17
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness
Eat Only When You're Hungry
Rainbirds
A Ladder to the Sky
Golden Child
The Goldfinch
The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P
& Sons
The Association of Small Bombs
Lolly Willowes
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Signal Fires
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