Thank you to Penguin Random House and the First to Read program for this eARC in exchange for my honest review.
When I selected this book, I did not actually read the synopsis. I just went by the title and the cover; they were both intriguing enough for me to just give this book a shot. What I read ended up blowing my mind and I am so happy I made the decision to read this book! Here is my review:
Summary (Goodreads): 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?
So let me start off with a TW: there are quite a lot of scenes/mentions of abuse so if that bothers you, then you might not want to read this book.
To say I loved this book would not be nearly enough to express my feelings. I LOOOOOOVED THIS BOOK! It had everything I was looking for in terms of twists, and character development, and just …. rawness (yes, I just made my own attribute).
I know that this book has religious undertones to it. And usually, I stay away from books like that. I don’t like books that target a religion and say only positive or negative things about it. But this book is different. It really isn’t about religious beliefs as much as it is about the “commercialization” of religion and the way something innocent can be twisted for personal gain. This is something that various religions have shown. While this book features Christianity, I felt that many of the issues this book brought up can be seen in Hinduism, as well. The use of religion as a platform to make money and fame is quite common these days, and I did not think the author was ever trying to bash any religious tenets in doing so. It’s a tricky balance that could have become offensive – but it didn’t. And for me, that shows a lot of skill on the author’s part.
The writing style of this story was absolutely superb. It was tight and filled with tension, with character POV’s that had me hooked. It was absolutely brilliant and I had no issues with it at any point. It was just consistently good writing throughout the story. The scheming and the planning behind everything was so well thought out and each reveal shocked me more than the next. The author also ensured that there was great character developments so I felt very connected to Essie.
I know that if I keep talking, I’m going to start spoiling the story so I’m going to end my review here. Suffice to say that this is a very gritty and tension-packed story. It is disturbing but if you like messed-up books with brilliant writing, then you should check this one out. I’m giving it a 5/5 stars!
Happy reading ~