The Book of Essie

The Book of Essie

Book - 2018 | First edition
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[A] 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.
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2018
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2018
ISBN: 9780525520313
Call Number: FICTION WEIR 2018
Characteristics: 319 pages ; 22 cm


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Oct 30, 2019

The title The Book of Essie suggests a connection with the Book of Esther, but this is not a retelling or an updated modern take. It’s somewhat connected to the idea of solving a crisis through action and solidarity: Essie finds solidarity with a chosen few people and creates a way to escape the life she is trapped in (while Esther has solidarity with the Jewish people and helps save them from slaughter). Definitely not a direct and obvious connect between the two.
For a book about Christian community, it touches very little on the main characters’ beliefs or faith. By the end, I don’t know if Essie truly believes in God or emerges with any of her faith intact. The story is more focused on revealing hypocrisy and undermining those who are more concerned with appearances than truth, love or any of the core values they claim to hold dear.
Some of the plot points are fairly implausible, but I recognize this story and these people from American pop culture: the Duggar family, Jon & Kate Plus 8, and the stories of American politicians who hope their “family values” will help them win elections.
What really struck me was how complicit everyone outside the family was. We’d all like to think we aren’t star struck or awed by famous people, but if we’ve learned anything from the last American election, it’s that fame and celebrity give people an extraordinary amount of power. Reality television and social media can make us feel like we know the people we follow, and we tend to trust the people we know. Intellectually, we’re aware that we’re being manipulated, but we don’t feel that way. We’re all so sure we’ve made up our own minds.
Essie shatters illusions in this book. She is so much more than anyone gives her credit for and she forces them all to confront who she really is, acknowledge her, and let her go.

IndyPL_LindsayH Jul 31, 2019

Although a fictional account, The Book of Essie reads like an accurate depiction of what it would be like to grow up with your life broadcast on television. Essie Hicks` is the daughter of the pastor of a megachurch and her family is at the center of a hit reality show. When she finds herself pregnant at the age of sixteen, she hatches a plan to take her life back into her own hands. Will she succeed or will her mother get what she wants?

ArapahoeAshleyR Jun 03, 2019

I keep seeing this book described as both timeless and timely, and that description totally holds up. Esther Hicks is the youngest child of a reality TV fire-and-brimstone evangelical priest who finds herself in the family way. I usually prefer nonfiction because reality is more interesting to me than invention, but this felt very real. There is a lot of truth in this made up story.

ArapahoeKati Apr 30, 2019

Timely novel about a teen, famous from her family's fire-and-brimstone reality tv show, who unexpectedly gets pregnant. I wrongly guessed the twist, didn't see the end coming and lost sleep over it.

JCLS_Ashland_Kristin Oct 29, 2018

A very compelling debut novel. I loved the narrative from multiple points of view, the reality show theme, and the commentary about sexual violence & the media's response to it.

May 25, 2018

The Book of Essie is a very compelling story that pulls together many timely topics. Teenage Essie is a smart, relatable young woman who deals with pregnancy, family and friendship while living on the set, so to speak, of her family’s reality TV show. This is a quick read, yet tough issues are not oversimplified. Recommended for both adults and teens.

OPL_AmyW Apr 07, 2018

Especially compelling in today's world of reality TV, The Book of Essie is a story about religion, family, and the secrets that can tear us apart - no matter the smiling face we show the world. Readers should beware of their own triggers before opening the cover. While the ending allows readers to feel a sense of completion when finishing the novel, it felt a little too rushed and unrealistic to me. These characters deal with serious issues that leave a lasting psychological impact. I'm not sure the author fully considered that.


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