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?
The Book of Essie is definitely not the kind of book I’m used to reading or reviewing, but I was really interested in the religious sect/cult vibe it had to it, and it didn’t disappoint. This book tackles dark and difficult themes but it remains hopeful and inspiring at the same time.
This book didn’t feel very realistic, the fame element and how some of the characters acted felt perfect for fiction but not something you’d come across in real life. It feels like a lot of fellow readers felt the same about this, so bear that in mind if you’re thinking of picking this one up! That being said, there were moments, especially when it came to Essie, where I could relate to her thoughts and feelings. This had some really amazing character building in it and it was really enjoyable to get to know Essie and Roarke throughout their journey together.
I was really excited about the story in this one even though I wasn’t 100% sure what to expect of it. I wasn’t expecting this one to tackle the dark and upsetting topics that it did, but I felt like it did it tastefully and in a really readable and accessible way. It was definitely a subtler book than what I’m used to reading, but it felt necessary for this story. My only problem with how the story was told is that I felt the author revealed too much too quickly and a lot of the last chunk of the book was just waiting for something new to happen. I also didn’t enjoy how the book ended. After everything, it felt just a little deflated.
Having gone in with only a small amount of previous awareness of the book, I thoroughly enjoyed this one. Weir’s a superb writer and I would most definitely be interested in reading more of her work!