Author: Meghan MacLean Weir
Published: June 12, 2018
Where I picked up my book: Library
Key Words: Religion, cults, family dynamics, reality tv fame
My Rating: 3.5 stars
Synopsis (via Goodreads):
A debut 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.
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?
This was a fast-paced novel that completely captivated me from the second I read the description. I have a secret (okay, not-so-secret) obsession with the Duggar family. Remember that “religious,” giant, reality TV family that dressed alike, the girls all wore dresses and had long hair and the boys were dressed in fancy pants and button downs, they all had names that began with J, and the parents were creepy as hell?! Oh and their demise was one of the brothers was found to have molested some of the sisters and everyone basically went MIA after that?! Well… I found myself literally feeling sick to my stomach with this clan when I first saw the show, but somehow googling them for hours and digging in deeper and deeper to their family while trying to discover what exactly was going on behind the scenes. I just think they are insane, and cannot, for the life of me, understand the family. I’ve always wondered what the hell is going on when the cameras are turned off? What brought these parents to raise a family like this and better yet, what made this sort of family think a reality TV show was the way to go? How much money are they getting for revealing their lives to a national crowd and somehow sucking us all into their insanity? What do the kids think and what happens if they don’t want to be a part of this anymore? There have to be major secrets-are there major secrets? Well…although The Book of Essie is completely fiction, I feel like I have a better understanding of these cult-like, religious families now. By the way, it doesn’t make me like the Duggars or even sympathize with them in the least. In fact, after reading this book, it solidifies my feelings that they are INSANE, but I got a glimpse (although fictional) into their world through this book and I liked it.
If you were intrigued by the Duggar family, questioned their motives and always wondered what went on when the cameras went off-then this book is for you. And if you haven’t watched the Duggar family on TV, but are interested in religious cults, reality tv and unhealthy family dynamics…grab a copy of this book, you won’t be disappointed.
If you’ve read this book, drop me a message or find me on Instagram and let me know what you thought!