Debuts to Read Right Now: The Book of Essie
Look, I do a new release blog every single week. And, oftentimes, when I'm doing the research, I come across the same names over and over. Breaking through the James Pattersons, the Nora Roberts, and the Stephen Kings of the writing world is darn near impossible. This year, I've made a point to read debut novels. So, without further ado, a debut to read right now.
The Book of Essie by Meghan MacLean Weir.
Essie Hicks is the seventeen-year-old reality TV star, the daughter of a famous televangelist and a moral pillar of the community, and she is also pregnant. Womp, womp. She's just broken the news to her mother who immediately springs into action, attempting to solve the problem while maintaining the family's reputation. The mother has little to no regard for what Essie wants to do and, this is something I found strange, didn't ask who the father was...it's as if she already knew. Essie's mother decides it's best for Essie to quickly fall in love and get married. And how delightful would it be to have an Easter wedding! Aware of her mother's plan, Essie begins making a plan of her own to escape her awful, hypocritical family and, in the process, give a young man a chance to get away as well.
What I liked: I like when books make me feel things. And, man, did this book make me feel things. I was immediately engaged and enraged. I loved Essie, Roarke, and Liberty Bell. I felt sorry for Essie's sister, Liz, and I was mad at pretty much EVERYONE else. The parents, both Essie's and Roarke's, were absolutely baffling to me. I don't want to give too much away because I want everyone to read it but, his parents essentially trade him to get out of debt.
The Book of Essie is overflowing with strong, complicated female characters, which is sorely lacking in a lot of books. Yeah, these mothers are wackadoo, but they are definitely strong characters. But there are some good ones, too. Liberty Bell, Essie, Liz, in her own way, Liberty's friend who helps piece together exactly what's happening. They're all great.
What I didn't like:
I have a couple of issues with this book.
One: I thought the ending was rushed and wrapped up a little too neatly. It's a decent ending, it's just unrealistic.
Two: A lot of interesting things were going on in this book, but she didn't explore them fully. The author had a lot of ideas. As an idea factory myself, I get it. It seems like she thought she had to include ALL of them. But, because the main story is Essie, she didn't delve in as much as I wanted her to. Because they're good! I want to know more about Liberty Bell. I want to know more about Roarke and his situation.
Reasons to give this book a chance:
It's a good story that is relevant and timely. It's fast-paced, engaging from the very beginning, and, despite a few hiccups, is a great read.
**DISCLAIMER / TRIGGER WARNING**
If you are a survivor of sexual assault, especially if it was at the hands of a family member, it may be best if you avoid this book. Or, at the very least, proceed with caution.
If your parents ever sent you to a conversion camp, I'm sorry. Those places are straight up terrible and they don't work; because there's nothing to fix in the first place.
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