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


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So it was released today and somehow I was at the top of the hold list. That never happens. I then read straight through it at midnight. Entertaining! 

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6 minutes ago, AliceInFundyland said:

So it was released today and somehow I was at the top of the hold list. That never happens. I then read straight through it at midnight. Entertaining! in

I just finished the Audible version. It was great. I definitely feel the author was inspired by Josh Duggar, the Phelps, and the Bundy standoff. 

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I’m nearly done with the book and I’m not sure if this was on purpose, but it made me laugh anyway. 

 

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Just started reading it at the doctor's office. Interesting so far. 

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Just started the audiobook yesterday, very entertaining so far! I'm on chapter 8 I think, 3 hrs in (I use Scribd and unfortunately it doesn't tell you what page that's equivalent to). I like that there's 3 different narrators, though I don't like the woman who does Liberty's voice.

I was also thinking Liberty's family sounds like the Phelps family.

Definitely big differences with the Duggars, since not only do the kids go to school but also university, one son goes to Yale.

I do think there's some inspiration from the rumors that Joy was pregnant before the wedding, though Essie is more of a grown-up Josie (even the names are similar).

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I'm apparently terribly picky with what I enjoy reading. I didn't care for the book much. It wasn't the story, though, but more the writing style that bothered me. A lot of telling, not showing, and the dialogue was so unrealistic. I've never heard an 18-year-old boy talk like that in my life. And the predominant first-person present tense drove me nuts.

I think the author had a good idea, but it could have been executed better. Definitely first-novel flaws! I was left feeling...blank, mostly, after I was done. Like when I read a Moody book, only with more talk about sex! :my_biggrin:

Please excuse my crankiness. It wasn't my style of book, I guess. :confusion-shrug:

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I'm about halfway through and have mixed feelings. The plot is pretty outlandish and a lot of it is pretty on-the-nose. It also seems like the author is less interested in the actual experience of megachurch evangelicalism, and is using it more as a plot device. She's basically outlined a generically oppressive/hypocritical family for the daughter to rebel against, with not a lot of thought to their particular beliefs, or even how Essie is reconciling her actions with what she's been taught. Maybe that shows up later on.

BUT it is a hell of a page-turner. I only started it last night, and I'm sure I'll have it finished by tomorrow night. I'm listening to it on audiobook and it made a 4-hour drive today go by pretty quickly.

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It’s not really a critical piece of dramatic literature. She’s clearly fascinated by a lot of the same things we are.

Ending spoiler:

Spoiler

My take on the ending was that she had hoped for an entirely different outcome in the Josh Duggar situation :D And who doesn’t want to see that? It’s a little like fundie fan fic.

 

Edited by AliceInFundyland
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I started reading other reviews online and somebody said it was really more YA than adult fiction. That made a lot of sense to me! If it had been categorized as YA I would have reacted to it a little bit differently, would have been less annoyed with the lack of depth and the stock characters. (Not saying all YA is like that, of course).

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Just put this on hold at the library, but I’m also waiting on Rachel Jeffs’ (FLDS) book. One is a paper copy and the other is an ebook...Can I handle reading both at the same time if they come available at the same time? Will report back. 

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21 minutes ago, AnnEggBlandHer? said:

Just put this on hold at the library, but I’m also waiting on Rachel Jeffs’ (FLDS) book. One is a paper copy and the other is an ebook...Can I handle reading both at the same time if they come available at the same time? Will report back. 

There are some similar themes and heavy topics and it would be very overwhelming and possibly confusing to read those together, I would have a "palette cleanser" book in between.

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9 hours ago, AnnEggBlandHer? said:

Just put this on hold at the library, but I’m also waiting on Rachel Jeffs’ (FLDS) book. One is a paper copy and the other is an ebook...Can I handle reading both at the same time if they come available at the same time? Will report back. 

I read Rachel Jeff's book.  It's not very well written, but I think that is because she didn't really have the best education.  It's a very interesting look behind the scenes in the FLDS, but there is a lot that she does not mention.  It felt to me like she left out a great deal. I don't think she left the actual religion, just the church itself and obviously her father.  He's a monster, no other word for it.

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Just finished the book. Did anyone else feel like she got tired of writing at the end and so just quickly wrapped everything up and threw together an epilogue?

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On 6/15/2018 at 11:00 AM, AnnEggBlandHer? said:

Just put this on hold at the library, but I’m also waiting on Rachel Jeffs’ (FLDS) book. One is a paper copy and the other is an ebook...Can I handle reading both at the same time if they come available at the same time? Will report back. 

Rachel Jeffs’ book is extremely intense. I think her spare, straightforward writing makes it a lot harder to read (emotionally speaking) than if she were a trained writer and used a more flowery style. 

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1 hour ago, closetcagebaby said:

Rachel Jeffs’ book is extremely intense. I think her spare, straightforward writing makes it a lot harder to read (emotionally speaking) than if she were a trained writer and used a more flowery style. 

I just finished it and I think I agree. But for the type of book it is and the content, it may have been a measured move to present as much information as possible. 

I’ve read some other books of women who have escaped and this definitely has the most information about what things were like after Warren Jeffs was arrested.  

I’m second in line for an e-copy of Book of Essie from my library, so hopefully I get that one soon! 

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I’m about halfway through and agree that it’s quite a page turner. Re the “fundie reality show” theme: the author makes it clear early on that the showrunners purposely didn’t want to do a Duggar reboot (in the wake of the scandals) but a look into a conservative Christian family that would appeal to a wide audience.

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On 6/11/2018 at 8:31 PM, refugee said:

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.

You do understand that disciplinary policies are ultimately controlled by administrators and not teachers in the classroom, right? As a teacher, I could attempt to stop a behavior in my classroom and apply immediate consequences. But once the behavior escalated to the point of an office referral--and the kind of bullying you are alluding to would, then it is in the hands of admins and if there are not policies in place at that level, that is not the fault of the classroom teacher. Secondly, teachers can't be everywhere. I could stop that behavior in my room. But I wasn't in the gym locker room or every bathroom or in every hallway or on the bus, etc... 

I worked for a principal who dismissed most bullying behavior (as long as it did not cross to anything physical) as the kids "joking with each other". I did not allow it in my classroom and the majority of the staff did not either; but when the administrator allows it, no teacher can actually shut it down. 

Honestly, you are likely placing blame on the wrong people. 

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I finally got the book and read it in one sitting today (resting a pulled back muscle). I agree that the ending seemed a bit rushed and wrapped up neatly with a bow, but for a first attempt at fiction, I thought it was decent. Definitely couldn't put it down today.

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Spoilers:

Spoiler

I enjoyed the book but it was pretty unrealistic. 18-year-old Roarke (distractingly annoying name, imo) promises to be the dad to the unborn baby of a girl he's only known for a few weeks, and has no romantic interest in. Why? That makes no sense. They could have done their whole plan without that. And he could have even later ended up being a father figure to the baby, but he didn't need to commit to it at that point.

I was kind of surprised that her brother ended up being the rapist/baby's father. It was hinted at all along, yes, but that's just so heavy. I thought it might end up being a friend of her brother's or something.

Also, how did the rest of the family react? K, her parents left the country and presumably didn't contact her anymore. Did all the other three brothers and their families leave too? Not one of them contacted her?

Finally, the whole thing about Liberty using Essie's cryptic clues to go find the flash drive? Ridiculous and unnecessary. OH, and also Liberty stealing her assistant's phone to give to Essie because Essie demanded a phone. That's...not how anything works. Is the author at all familiar with modern-day cell phones?

 

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13 hours ago, Coy Koi said:

Spoilers:

  Hide contents

I enjoyed the book but it was pretty unrealistic. 18-year-old Roarke (distractingly annoying name, imo) promises to be the dad to the unborn baby of a girl he's only known for a few weeks, and has no romantic interest in. Why? That makes no sense. They could have done their whole plan without that. And he could have even later ended up being a father figure to the baby, but he didn't need to commit to it at that point.

I was kind of surprised that her brother ended up being the rapist/baby's father. It was hinted at all along, yes, but that's just so heavy. I thought it might end up being a friend of her brother's or something.

Also, how did the rest of the family react? K, her parents left the country and presumably didn't contact her anymore. Did all the other three brothers and their families leave too? Not one of them contacted her?

Finally, the whole thing about Liberty using Essie's cryptic clues to go find the flash drive? Ridiculous and unnecessary. OH, and also Liberty stealing her assistant's phone to give to Essie because Essie demanded a phone. That's...not how anything works. Is the author at all familiar with modern-day cell phones?

 

This is a lot how I felt. One of the biggest things about growing up fundie is how simultaneously you are given adult responsibilities and expectations AND you are exceedingly naive in others. I thought Essie and Roarke both were overly mature in a situation where NO ONE would be that mature and unemotional. 

Quick read, I enjoyed it. 

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1 minute ago, MrsFoxx said:

This is a lot how I felt. One of the biggest things about growing up fundie is how simultaneously you are given adult responsibilities and expectations AND you are exceedingly naive in others. I thought Essie and Roarke both were overly mature in a situation where NO ONE would be that mature and unemotional. 

Quick read, I enjoyed it. 

I didn't grow up fundie so I couldn't comment from personal experience. Essie's family didn't really seem to be fundie though, just Evangelical. Don't you think? There's a ton of overlap, but they didn't seem to be fundie to me. As horrible as her upbringing was, on the surface at least, it was way better than that of many fundie kids.

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4 hours ago, Coy Koi said:

I didn't grow up fundie so I couldn't comment from personal experience. Essie's family didn't really seem to be fundie though, just Evangelical. Don't you think? There's a ton of overlap, but they didn't seem to be fundie to me. As horrible as her upbringing was, on the surface at least, it was way better than that of many fundie kids.

I think the author didn't delve deeply enough into theology to make the family appear convincingly fundie. I'm not sure she had enough personal knowledge of the fundie world and way of thinking. 

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7 hours ago, Lisafer said:

I think the author didn't delve deeply enough into theology to make the family appear convincingly fundie. I'm not sure she had enough personal knowledge of the fundie world and way of thinking. 

It could be that she was shooting for fundie but got it wrong, but I feel like it's more likely that she was shooting for evangelical-but-not-fundie and got it closer to right. Her father was a preacher and I assume she was basing it on what she experienced.

What seemed weird to me though is how everyone in the entire town was apparently a member of Essie's dad's church. Are there really towns where everyone belongs to the same megachurch?

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