GENRE & SYNOPSIS
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?
Credits to Goodreads.com
RATING & REVIEW
I loved it! I wasn't setting my expectations so high because the plot, though interesting isn't exactly the kind I enjoy. For one it's about a family who stars in a reality tv show, which I am not so fond of. Next, it's something about religion which I am not such a big reader either. Nevertheless I tried and found myself immersed in Essie Hicks' tragic story.
As it starts with Essie eavesdropping her mother's decision about what to do with her unexpected pregnancy and how it is feared to ruin their "pure" reputation as a Pastor's brood, you will immediately see that there's more grim background to it with the way the characters are reacting- especially Essie. She is clearly on a move to expose the not so prim and proper facade of her entire family. And to do it, she brings in a reporter with a tragic background of her own, Liberty Bell. And Roarke Richards, a handsome school athlete whose family is on it's wit's end financially. Both of which Essie knew would help her cause to get a ticket out of what was her apparent prison her whole life - the Hicks family and the secret they keep in the walls of their home.
What I like about this book is it is brave to tackle sensitive issues like problems within a church or religious group, cults, sexual harassment, rape and racism among others. Although I wished there was deeper digging into these topics rather than just vaguely narrating the characters feelings in relation to these social issues. That I can say about this book though, it is big on feelings and realizations which I appreciate.
When at last we pile into the cars and pull past the gatehouse, I look for a long time out of the rear window until the lake has entirely disappeared. Blake stays quiet as the truck bounces over the dirt road and I know we're thinking the same thing: this was the last time. Now that childhood is behind us, we will never come here again.
-Roarke after spending time with his childhood friends in an abandoned summer camp
Another interesting note is that the book is surprisingly told in multiple POVs: Essie's, Liberty's and Roarke's. I appreciate that the author sees to it that each character is given a background so we have a better view and understanding of the way they make decisions. To be honest though, I wouldn't mind if the POV is Essie's alone - I find hers most compelling and exciting compared to the other two.
It was hard to believe that I deserve a day like this. I used to think no one would ever love me. I used to think that I was unlovable. I used to think that everything that happened to me was my fault, that I deserved it. 'Be brave', my father said during the ceremony. It's hard to be brave, but I know I have to try..."
-Essie on revealing the truth
Lastly, I love the relationship that Essie and Roarke have. It's a love different from what most of us expects- but it is love nonetheless and it is portrayed beautifully in this book. There were some loopholes in the story, some events and backgrounds are lacking in thorough information for readers to fully immerse themselves in the situation and some are even hard to pass as believable that is why I cannot give a full five star rating. But I would definitely recommend this book if you're a fan of fast-paced reads and books that has a lot of family drama. Plus this book is LGBTQ+ friendly and a good feminist read as well.
Thank you BookOfTheMonth for my copy! It is one of their June selections <3
Looking forward to the next book!