I don’t watch a lot of telly and I have never really caught the reality TV bug. However, one of my favourite movies is The Truman Show. I loved the idea of someone portraying a real life to the world, while we the audience, ignore the question of its authenticity.
The Book of Essie is similar, yet more current. The TV show is “Six for Hicks” which follows the life of an Evangelical family. The local community look up to the family and the world follows their every move with interest. The book opens with the question of how the family will handle Essie, their teenage daughter and star of the show, and her pregnancy.
It is a fine example of storytelling at its best. From the very first page I was hooked. There’s just the right amount of suspense which kept me guessing. I couldn't work out where we were headed, I love when an author can make me little crazy trying to figure things out. In the early part of the book, I wasn’t sure about Essie and I found myself jumping to conclusions and making assumptions that I shouldn’t have.
This is a timely book, we seem to be obsessed with the countless reality TV shows but also the world of social media which shows us polished and perfect versions of others without questioning the level of reality. It is so easy to see what we want to see when we watch these programmes or follow accounts of people’s amazing lives. Underneath it all we are all human, and there are dark and complicated sides to life that are overlooked.
Essie is a young woman robbed of many aspects of her life by her family’s need for money, attention and fame. She is brave, strong and yet vulnerable and loveable; she's a true feminine hero.
I’m really hoping Meghan Maclean Weir has more books up her sleeve (no pressure)! She writes beautifully, it is one of those books where you sit down to read one chapter and before you know it you've lost a chunk of time and still don't want to put it down.