Maybe you remember, or maybe you don’t – in my last blog post, I was positively suffering from a reading slump because a book didn’t measure up to my expectations… Well, guess what! I am so over it and I am here to gloat about my newest 5 star read!
This book was sent to me from Book of the Month, an amazing subscription box, with a choice of 5 books. This one called out to me, right from the start, when I read the synopsis. Here it is from 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?
If the synopsis of the book isn’t enough to catch your attention, here are a couple more reasons for you to add this to your TBR, ASAP.
For one, the love stories in the book are beautifully crafted. Anyone who follows me on my blog, Bookstagram, or Goodreads knows just how hard it is for me to find a love story that feels real, that I can get behind. In The Book of Essie, the love that Essie and Roarke develop when put into such an impossible situation is a love that most people can only strive for. It may not be a passionate, romantic love but it is the type of love that lasts – the love for a close friend, based on respect and understanding. Even the relationship between Liberty and her boyfriend, Mike, is one that feels culpable – a love that has grown from communication. No Insta-love in this book, and for that alone, I enjoyed this book.
Furthermore, The Book of Essie opens up the conversation about faith versus religion, and calls out the hypocrisy of religion to appeal to people. Despite being written in such a religious setting, however, I think the themes and morals of the story will appeal to believers and nonbelievers alike. Meghan MacLean Weir calls out reality television personalities and perhaps, compares them to some of the people that call themselves Christian – all just a show. To me, that kind of comparison is a breath of fresh air.
And the best part is, this book discusses sexual violence in a way that (hopefully) will make readers believe that telling their story is okay, and that people will stand behind them, even when the world falls apart. I am not a survivor of such atrocities as Essie experienced, so I may not have the experience to say that this is how it really makes you feel, but here is an excerpt that led me to that conclusion:
“‘That’s why I say to every young girl who is out there listening, no one asks to be raped. I didn’t … Because if I’m going to be brace, it means I can’t be silent anymore.'”
“It may be silly, but it gives me hope, this army of strangers that have sworn to stand up against slut-shaming…”
Maybe, its not enough, but maybe, just maybe, this book will help some innocent victim decide that enough is enough and to find the courage to end the cycle of violence.
Let’s all take a lesson from Essie and remember that we are all human, each with a story, and stop judging, stop living for the cameras. Only then can we be the best versions of ourselves.