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"The Book of Essie" : a new novel about a fundie reality show family


mrs
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The Book of Essie is a novel by Megan MacLean Weir. It is about a fundie reality show family. The father is a television pastor of a mega church. The protagonist is Esther "Essie". She is the youngest daughter of this quiverfull family. From the preview, I understand she becomes pregnant at 17. Her mother arranges a marriage in exchange for money. The reader does not know who the father is, at least not for the first 60 or so pages of the preview. I predict the father is a family member...possible the father or a brother. The book will be released on June 12th. I'm really curious to know if the author is a member here (Megan if you are, I welcome an early copy in exchange for an Amazon review!) I'm hooked on this book already!

 

From Amazon:

A debut novel of family, fame, and religion that tells the emotionally stirring, wildly captivating 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?"

https://www.amazon.com/Book-Essie-Meghan-MacLean-Weir/dp/0525520317/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

 

Anyone else interested in reading? What family do you think the book is based off of? 

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I would be very interested in reading this book.  Just the description has me very intrigued. 

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Sounds interesting. The names in the blurb are a little on the nose--Liberty Bell, really?--but I'm making a note of this one for when it comes out! Maybe we can all discuss it after reading!

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16 minutes ago, Lisafer said:

Sounds interesting. The names in the blurb are a little on the nose--Liberty Bell, really?--but I'm making a note of this one for when it comes out! Maybe we can all discuss it after reading!

In my opinion "Libby" is inspired by someone who grew up in the West Borough Baptist Church and fled.

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thinking this will have to be added to my library. Gotta get a bunch of crap off my tablet first. 

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Yeah, this is definitely going on my TBR list as soon as possible.

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4 hours ago, Lisafer said:

Sounds interesting. The names in the blurb are a little on the nose--Liberty Bell, really?--but I'm making a note of this one for when it comes out! Maybe we can all discuss it after reading!

I assumed that since the character is a reporter/media figure that the name is supposed to be a nom de plume, but if not I agree it's a little much.

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I'll be picking this up! Sounds very similar to another book I read a year or two ago called Something Real, about a daughter in a huge reality show family (minus the religion aspect). I can't remember too much about it other than that, but I gave it four stars on Goodreads, so it must have been fairly good, haha! 

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14 hours ago, mrs said:

What family do you think the book is based off of? 

Could be interesting and the excerpt is well written.  I doubt it is based an any one family but the author has looked into RTV a bit.  It sounds like the mother is modeled on Kate Gosselin, with a spoonful of the Loud family, a sprinkling of Duggar, a pinch of Bates, and perhaps a touch of Phelps or Jeub.   

Her other book is actually more interesting to me - a memoir about working at Children's Hospital: https://www.amazon.com/Between-Expectations-Lessons-Pediatric-Residency/dp/1439189080/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

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Meanwhile, Essie is quietly pairing herself up with Roarke Richards, a senior at her school with a secret of his own to protect. 

And that's where it lost me.  She's attending ebil public school, not partaking in True Biblical Education at the School of the Dining Room Table?  The shame!

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22 hours ago, CyborgKin said:

And that's where it lost me.  She's attending ebil public school, not partaking in True Biblical Education at the School of the Dining Room Table?  The shame!

Maybe it's a Christian private school. I've known fundies who went to those. But yeah, public school wouldn't be very believable...

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18 hours ago, Lisafer said:

Maybe it's a Christian private school. I've known fundies who went to those. But yeah, public school wouldn't be very believable...

Some fundies believe it’s their mission to go out into the world and be the “light of Christ.” My daughter is a public school teacher and has encountered skirts-only students as a student and as a teacher—and we’re in New England. We see so many homeschooling fundies on this board that we forget not all of them homeschool.

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2 hours ago, Hane said:

Some fundies believe it’s their mission to go out into the world and be the “light of Christ.” My daughter is a public school teacher and has encountered skirts-only students as a student and as a teacher—and we’re in New England. We see so many homeschooling fundies on this board that we forget not all of them homeschool.

I guess, growing up homeschooled and around mostly other homeschooled kids, I didn't see that as much. Oddly enough, I knew a family who homeschooled while the father taught in a public school. :confusion-shrug:

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On 6/5/2018 at 1:18 PM, Lisafer said:

I guess, growing up homeschooled and around mostly other homeschooled kids, I didn't see that as much. Oddly enough, I knew a family who homeschooled while the father taught in a public school. :confusion-shrug:

We knew a few of those. The school district where we used to live had an abysmal graduation rate. The teachers we talked to (like manning an NEA info table at the county fair) actually told us “good for you!” when we awkwardly admitted to being homeschoolers in conversation.

We began homeschooling for two reasons—teachers seemed to be helpless to deal with bullying, and academic standards (ETA: the evidence for homeschoolers having significantly higher test scores than kids in brick-and-mortar schools was not just christian homeschool propaganda, like Brian what’s-his-name has been accused of. We saw it for real in our own family. After taking our oldest kid out of school and working with her at home, her test scores tripled in one year). We only got sucked into the religious aspect as a result of looking for a homeschool support group because homeschooling was a lonely prospect back in those days (another thing: it was hard to get textbooks! But you could get textbooks from companies that were already supplying Christian private schools. We started out with Bob Jones because I didn’t know any better. After two years, we started using the public library instead).

Edited by refugee
Added something, and typo
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2 hours ago, refugee said:

We knew a few of those. The school district where we used to live had an abysmal graduation rate. The teachers we talked to (like manning an NEA info table at the county fair) actually told us “good for you!” when we awkwardly admitted to being homeschoolers in conversation.

We began homeschooling for two reasons—teachers seemed to be helpless to deal with bullying, and academic standards (ETA: the evidence for homeschoolers having significantly higher test scores than kids in brick-and-mortar schools was not just christian homeschool propaganda, like Brian what’s-his-name has been accused of. We saw it for real in our own family. After taking our oldest kid out of school and working with her at home, her test scores tripled in one year). We only got sucked into the religious aspect as a result of looking for a homeschool support group because homeschooling was a lonely prospect back in those days (another thing: it was hard to get textbooks! But you could get textbooks from companies that were already supplying Christian private schools. We started out with Bob Jones because I didn’t know any better. After two years, we started using the public library instead).

It's interesting that you got into the religion through homeschooling, whereas my parents got into homeschooling through religion! I did a post on my FJ blog about how I was homeschooled, if you care to read it. 

I am surprised by the amount of public school teachers, who, when they find out I'm homeschooling, respond very positively, saying I'm doing the best thing for my kids. I've had very few negative comments, although that might be due to RBF, haha.

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@refugee, I have a friend who decided to homeschool her child in middle school because of a bullying problem. Fortunately, she was able to return to public school in high school and thrived there. 

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@Hane I’m glad for her! We didn’t move out of our former neighborhood until our youngest was the only one still school age. We put the kid in school and they thrived academically. Social skills took a little longer. Kid had trouble relating to other teens at first.

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On 6/6/2018 at 3:45 AM, Hane said:

Some fundies believe it’s their mission to go out into the world and be the “light of Christ.” My daughter is a public school teacher and has encountered skirts-only students as a student and as a teacher—and we’re in New England. We see so many homeschooling fundies on this board that we forget not all of them homeschool.

Good point, I've heard arguments between people on both sides of that argument.

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I remember being surprised that Fred Phelps's grandchildren went to public school.  The one who left(Meghan?)said that she was told "As long as you have the truth, nothing can harm you."

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On 6/7/2018 at 1:53 PM, refugee said:

We knew a few of those. The school district where we used to live had an abysmal graduation rate. The teachers we talked to (like manning an NEA info table at the county fair) actually told us “good for you!” when we awkwardly admitted to being homeschoolers in conversation.

We began homeschooling for two reasons—teachers seemed to be helpless to deal with bullying, and academic standards (ETA: the evidence for homeschoolers having significantly higher test scores than kids in brick-and-mortar schools was not just christian homeschool propaganda, like Brian what’s-his-name has been accused of. We saw it for real in our own family. After taking our oldest kid out of school and working with her at home, her test scores tripled in one year). We only got sucked into the religious aspect as a result of looking for a homeschool support group because homeschooling was a lonely prospect back in those days (another thing: it was hard to get textbooks! But you could get textbooks from companies that were already supplying Christian private schools. We started out with Bob Jones because I didn’t know any better. After two years, we started using the public library instead).

Actually, there is no evidence that homeschoolers perform better when demographics are taken into account.

Quote

However, when the homeschooled students were “compared to a sample of traditionally schooled students with comparable SES profile, high school GPA, and SAT score, homeschooled students appeared to show no differences in their first year of college GPA.”

It is also important to note that homeschooling families volunteer to be part of studies while public school families do not volunteer to be part of studies. There are also other variables to consider.

Quote

Although the data supports the notion that homeschooled students outperform traditionally schooled students on standardized tests, we must consider the numerous variables that could contribute to these findings. For instance, the administration of standardized tests are not always monitored for homeschooled students. Depending on the child’s grade, the state he lives in and the test itself, the assessment could be given at home, in a specified location, or at the public school. Is it possible that homeschooled children who take standardized tests at home, have the opportunity to look up information or ask for assistance? What about kids that have test taking anxiety or those who are easily distracted? They may do better too if they took a test at home. Do the scores themselves necessarily mean that homeschooled students are doing better academically? I think it is difficult to fully determine this based on scores alone. We also know that standardized testing is not the only way to measure knowledge.

http://www.educationandbehavior.com/what-does-research-say-about-homeschooling/

I have read other studies that show homeschoolers perform similar to public school students when demographics are taken into account.

Your story about your daughter is just anecdotal evidence from someone on the internet.

Edited by Ali
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Just coming to FJ to see if this book is being discussed yet. I can't wait to read it!

I wonder if she avoided certain Duggar elements like homeschool to make sure it's not too similar and thus avoid being sued.

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I have this book on hold at my local library; I thought it might make a good beach read this summer.

Reading about Essie the fundie amalgam makes me think about Hot Rebecca, Leslie Knope’s jealousy amalgam on Parks & Rec.

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On 6/9/2018 at 7:40 AM, Ali said:

Actually, there is no evidence that homeschoolers perform better when demographics are taken into account.

It is also important to note that homeschooling families volunteer to be part of studies while public school families do not volunteer to be part of studies. There are also other variables to consider.

http://www.educationandbehavior.com/what-does-research-say-about-homeschooling/

I have read other studies that show homeschoolers perform similar to public school students when demographics are taken into account.

Your story about your daughter is just anecdotal evidence from someone on the internet.

I don’t think I claimed that all homeschoolers do better than all schooled children. I thought I made it clear that I was suspicious of Brian (wish I could remember his last name)’s so-called statistics, and that our experience was ours alone. I s’pose I should have added a cautionary YMMV. In any event, if my comment was misleading or could be perceived as propaganda, I apologize.

I wasn’t even claiming that my instructional acumen was better than that of someone with a teaching degree, and if that appeared to be what I was implying, I apologize. I suspect the reason our kid scored so much better on standardized tests after a year of home education was mainly due to the fact that certain little shits were no longer able to make the kid’s life miserable with daily, frequent bullying that the professionally trained teachers seemed helpless to address. Bless them. I have a great deal of respect for teachers, what they do, what they have to put up with, including inadequate pay. I hope the anti-bullying programs they have now in schools work better than the no-program-at-all in the schools a few decades ago.

Edited by refugee
Typing when pissed
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