Told in three perspectives, The Book of Essie is the story of what happens when a Christian reality TV family finds out one of the daughters is pregnant. They will go to any length to protect their reputation, celebrity, show, and ultimately — power and wealth.
Essie, 17, is pregnant. Her parents have decided that the best way to deal with the situation is to marry her off quickly and pretend the baby belongs to the husband. Essie doesn’t like her life in the spotlight and disagrees with what her parents are doing. She knows how fake everyone is in her world and is generally disillusioned with the world, ready to escape her small town.
Rourke, a year older at Essie’s high school, is “chosen” to be Essie’s husband. He is appalled at what his parents are willing to do to save their business and be set for life. But at the same time…he really wants to go to Columbia. And he wants his parents to be financially stable. But he really also doesn’t want to be a celebrity, and he really doesn’t want to marry Essie and be a part of the strict, religious family he’s grown up watching on television and in real life.
Liberty Bell, now a journalist, earned her spotlight for being an escaped member of a cult. The cult leader is not only in jail now, and has Liberty’s mom petitioning for his release, but Liberty hates him with everything she is because he is responsible for her sister’s death so many years ago. Essie knows about Liberty’s story, and she asks to be put through interviews on Liberty’s show to give an “inside look” to the viewers before her whirlwind marriage.
Full of twists, shocking moments, and horrifying revelations, The Book of Essie is one of the most bingeable books I’ve picked up this year. I initially got it as my June Book of the Month, but ended up listening to the audiobook. The audiobook has amazing narrators and I could not turn it off!
If you like celebrity drama, teenage angst mixed with real problems, journalistic investigations, and a real, down-to-earth American story, this one is for you.
[It should also be mentioned that there are a few content warnings: rape, homophobia, murder, general bad treatment of children. However, these things are not condoned in the book.]
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