Review of “The Book of Essie”

This book was an interesting, easy read. Filled with character development, the tale keeps you interested, but also readers may be able to guess things before they are entirely revealed. This easy reading nature made this book an excellent vacation read or summer read in general. While I enjoyed this book, I cannot fully recommend it.

I wanted to love this book more than I did. I think the subject matter was a point of contention for me. It’s hard to watch people destroy other people’s lives. In fact, most of the awful aftermath stems from someone else’s actions. Essie’s older brother Caleb does something awful and Essie reacts. Roarke’s parents send him away for an issue and her comes back with more. Essie and Roarke are simply reacting to all the things that are done to them. Sometimes they choose well, other times they do not. Thus, the story unfolds.

In the midst of them is the story of Liberty, which would have made for an interesting story all by itself. In fact, sometimes I found her story more interesting than Essie’s, because her sections were less predictable for me. Libby has escaped something truly awful. Something that killed her sister. Her story places the blame on the individual, not the group. While she could have blamed her parents, she can clearly see where the blame lies. Individual people make choices and it doesn’t define the whole group. And there’s truth in that.

I honestly don’t know how to deal with this story. Because every part of it read well for me, but it doesn’t align with my views of Christians. Many reviews compare it to the Duggar’s story, but they forget that these kinds of things happen in non-christian families as well. Universally this is wrong, but the finger is pointed at Christianity repeatedly in this book. I’m afraid this book, while about one fictional family, will shape the view of Christianity as a whole.

Overall, this book was hard for me. As a Christian, you wonder how the world sees you or how the world labels you. This book was doing that. Lumping all Christians into one category. Seeing the places where Christians have done things wrong, rather than what we do right. Not every Christian acts the same. Not every statement from a pulpit covers the masses. Some things in this book are true for Christians, but it doesn’t change the love aspect.

Sadly, religion has become an “us vs. them” situation from both sides. Non-Christians consider Christians the them, and vice versa. There is no talking, there is no understanding, often from either side. No one likes to be told that they’re wrong or that they made a bad choice, on either side of the divide. I still feel that many Non-Christians don’t see that a Christian can love without accepting every lifestyle choice. It’s either accepting or hating. This book feeds that opinion.

So while I enjoyed the book, I can’t fully recommend it.

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