Title: The Book of Essie
Author: Meghan Maclean Weir
Genre: contemporary fiction
Is this part of a series? No
Publish date: June 12th, 2018
Essie is the youngest of Pastor Hick’s children, and has lived her life on television for her family’s show Six for Hicks. It doesn’t really allow for a normal childhood or life in general. Everyone thinks they know her from the show… but they know nothing- and she’s ready to change that.
Rourke is the handsome school athlete. Everyone likes him- he has the looks, grades, and talent. Unfortunately that won’t get him far without money- college is expensive and his parents are about to loose their business. When circumstances force the two together Rourke is ready to hate her for everything she stands for. The more they see of each other, though, the more he realizes that he and the rest of the world have it wrong.
Liberty Bell is trying to make amends for her past- sadly, the very public past does not want to be forgotten and people have a lot of preconceived notions. When Essie approaches her for help, all she can see is a way to make a new name for herself. As she gets more of the story, though, the young people begin to mean more to her than a story.
This is about family, loyalty, religion betrayal, and redemption.
I was up until three in the morning because I simply could not put the book down. The characters were real, multifaceted and interesting. I found myself rooting for them from the beginning. Quick paced, heartfelt and just a bit irreverent, this is sure to be a crowd-pleaser. I loved the premise here, and that each of the three narratives had their individual demons. The different points of view added a lot to the story and the drama at hand. Each one has an opinion as to what the right thing to do is, and each have their own hang ups.
Essie, especially, was easy for me to love. She is just seventeen, but was forced to grow up so fast. She’s media savvy, and yet she sees the craziness that is her life, sees the humor of the situation and decides to use it to meet her own goals. At first, I felt bad for the way she used Rourke; but then I realized that she also thought she was helping him the only way she knew how…. and if her plan was going to work she needed a partner.
The mother might upset some people. She’s conniving, manipulative and cares more about appearances than anything else and always has. Her reactions to what is going on in the family were a huge turn off to me. Meetings about “Essie’s problem” that she wasn’t invited to. Large issues swept under the rug. Everything is about image- how she looks and sounds, how the pastor looks- going so far as to photo-shop the daughter that left the fold into holiday pictures so that no one would know she was estranged. Honestly, I hated her, but she was a necessary evil for the story.
Fast paced and heartfelt, this book broke me. I loved it! For me, this is a five star book with an added star for creativity. It’s hard to intertwine this many issues together so fluidly.
On the adult content scale there is a lot of language, but more than that are the underlying issues of the book. There is talk of rape, conversion therapy, bigotry and hate. I would say that this book is only for older teens and adults. It’s a lot to take in, and I was pleased to see that Goodreads was not labeling this as a YA novel despite the age of the main character. It isn’t one. Let’s give it a seven.
I was lucky enough to receive an eARC of this book from First to Read in exchange for an honest review. My thanks.
The book comes out 6-12-18. Be ready!
Link to book: