FINALIST FOR THE 2018 NEW ENGLAND BOOK AWARD
"Both timelessly beautiful and unbelievably timely."—Chris Bohjalian, New York Times bestselling author of Midwives and The Flight Attendant
A captivating novel of family, fame, and religion that tells the 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?
Weir's topical but uneven debut chronicles what happens to 17-year-old Esther "Essie" Hicks one of the children featured on the reality show Six for Hicks, who have grown up in front of conservative, religious television viewers after she becomes pregnant. Essie's father may be a famous evangelical preacher, but her ruthless mother, Celia, runs the family empire from behind the scenes. When her family discovers Essie is pregnant, it's decided that she should marry, but whom? Essie slyly convinces Celia that Roarke Richards, captain of the high school baseball team, would be a perfect addition to the Hicks family. Roarke dislikes the Hicks family's hypocrisy, but the offer of money for marriage will save his family from bankruptcy, pay for college, and financially secure his future. He is surprised that Essie knows his secret he is gay and only reluctantly agrees with her plan, but eventually he becomes a willing accomplice. Aiding the two is reporter Liberty Bell, who watched her sister die in a Ruby Ridge like raid. Liberty's history complements Essie's present, but the author nonetheless struggles to fit her into the story. Weir's narrative features some finely nuanced characters, but its villains lack dimension, which makes the ethical gymnastics Essie and her crew endure before the denouement more absurd than necessary. Though not without its faults, this is nevertheless an incisive novel.
Excellent and Unique Story Line
What a treat this book was to read. The story was beautifully told, exposing and examining the many layers of both love and rage. Awesome book.
I bought this book yesterday, I was amazing! Beautifully written, captivating characters, great ending!
This book blew me away. I started reading it thinking I already knew the whole plot, and it unpacks so much more than that. Meghan MacLean Weir develops Essie, Roarke, and Liberty into the best kind of complexity. It’s worth 100% of your time.