Book club: The Book of Essie by Meghan MacLean Weir

Book club: The Book of Essie by Meghan MacLean Weir

The Book of Essie

By Meghan MacLean Weir

Published June 2018

I borrowed this book from my local library. Get a library card and use it!

This review contains slight spoilers and references to sex abuse

I really loved this book. I couldn’t put it down. I know most people say that about the books they read but I generally have no problem putting a book down and walking away if it bores me in the slightest. Often I don’t pick books back up. For the Book of Essie I sat down around 10 a and began reading. I closed the book around 6 p that evening having stopped only for a few minutes at a a time to move around and take a shower.

Not only was the book great, but it is timely. The story follows a young girl who is part of a religious mega family that has its own reality TV show. If you thought of the Duggars, so did I.

I bring up the Duggar family because The Book of Essie is largely about sex abuse and how it is covered up when families, especially prominent families are allowing it to happen in their own homes. Much like the Duggars, Essie’s family was complicit in her abuse and exploitation. One of the major plot points in the story was the question of who else knew it was happening and did nothing. The names on that list continued to grow up until the last few chapters and it’s heartbreaking because of the reality behind it.

Essie, the main character is clever, a survivor, and intensely compassionate. Essie is pregnant and needs to figure out what to do about it since the media covers her family’s every move and she’s an unmarried highschooler. She comes up with a plan years in advance just for this scenario and she executes it beautifully considering the terrible reality. Essie, while manipulative and scheming, is lovable. This is because we know Essie’s motives without her initially revealing them. She wants to escape her abuser, her family, and she wants her baby to be safe. She finds this safety in a classmate, Roarke who also wants to escape.

Roarke is lovable and teaches us a lot about the hypocrisy of reality TV and the people who love and hate it. Roarke also offers a few teaching moments about using other people to make a point. The love story between Roarke and Essie is not romantic, but it is something better, its about love between friends. I couldn’t have asked for a better love story, especially because a romantic one would have been tasteless and wrong all things considered.

The only confusing portion of the novel was the character Libby, a reformed religious fanatic. Libby’s role in the story was clear to begin with, to be the only journalist that interviews Essie and to help Essie find her sister. Her secondary roles become evident later in the story and the large chunks of the book dedicated to her suddenly have purpose. Libby’s story line is parallel to Essie’s in an unusual way and while it was confusing at first. It felt incredibly rewarding at the end even though Libby’s purpose is practically spoon fed to us in the last few chapters.

I loved this book and have already recommended it to many people. Its timeliness, criticism or reality TV, and lessons are beautifully executed and ultimately teach us that passing judgement too quickly is at the heart of hate and silence is complicity.



Book Club: The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo

Book Club: The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo

The Way You Make Me Feel

By Maurene Goo

Published August 2018

I borrowed this book from my local library’s young adult section. Get a library card and use it!

This review may include spoilers. I don’t do “number” or “star” ratings because I think those systems are arbitrary and vague.

The first half gave me the warm and fuzzies about friendship, the second half made me kick my feet and squeal like a teenager because it was so cute!

First of all, this book was Continue reading “Book Club: The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo”

Phone Addiction Update: Week three

Phone Addiction Update: Week three

Challenge: No using my phone while doing other things (eating, watching tv, writing)

Hours spent this week using my phone: 26 hours and 39 minutes or 12 hours and 57 minutes (subtracting maps and youTube since I technically wasn’t using my phone)

Most used apps: Maps and Youtube

How it went:

After the disaster that was last week, this week went a lot better. I didn’t use my phone for social media much while we were on our trip, I made a total of two posts before today and I wasn’t scrolling through Pinterest or Tumblr for hours a day. I didn’t do so well on not using my phone while eating because most of our days were planned during breakfast. We didn’t watch TV and most of my writing was done yesterday. I think this week was successful, mostly in part because I was on a road trip.

Since we were on a road trip this week, most of my phone usage is for YouTube (music) and maps. The data is a bit skewed this week.

How I’m feeling:

I’m feeling really good about this week. Really good. I plan to implement what I’ve been practicing in the last three weeks in the imminent future and work on the things I struggled with.

Concluding thoughts:

I hope to really kick this phone addiction to the curb because I really hate that I’m always one my phone. What really gets me now is how much I see other people using their phones because its so easy to see other people doing it and to want to do it yourself. I think in the end, the most difficult part of doing the challenge is seeing your friends and peers using their phones in front of you while you are consciously trying not to. I feel good about this whole experience. I’m ready to take what I’ve started and move forward with it. I’m excited to see what I can accomplish in the future!

Phone Addiction Update: Week two

Phone Addiction Update: Week two

Challenge: phone ban between the 8 pm and 8 am.

Hours spent this week using my phone: 18 hours and 11 minutes

Most used apps: Pinterest, 6 hours, 35 minutes

How it went:

I was right, like I suspected in last week’s post, this week was very hard. I think I was too ambitious. Not using my phone after 8pm was the hardest part. I can manage not using my phone in the morning before 8am, that was simple and easy. I think for week three, I will change the ban to between 9:30pm and 8am. I wanted it to start two hours before bed and one before I had to be anywhere in the mornings. I generally go to bed around 10:30, so an hour is a good place to start and eventually I can work up to two hours. When classes start at the end of this month, I will have to adjust again too.

How I’m feeling:

I can confidently say I failed this part of the challenge. I know where it went wrong and I am ready to work on it.

Come back next Saturday for an update on week three: No using my phone while doing other things (eating, watching tv, writing).

Phone Addiction Update: Week one

Phone Addiction Update: Week one

Challenge: My phone does not go to bed with me.

Hours spent this week using my phone: 19 hours 40 minutes

Most used app: Pinterest, 6 hours 2 minutes

How it went:

This is the first week of my phone addiction challenge and it was surprisingly easy to not take my phone to bed with me. I have a basket on my desk where I empty my bag into and I just set my phone in there before bed and don’t pull it out until I get out of bed in the morning.

I had all four of my wisdom teeth extracted Tuesday of this week and I had done great with not taking my phone to bed up until Thursday. I’m literally writing this portion of the update while in bed. I was under the impression that I would be feeling back to normal by Friday. Well its Friday night and I still feel like garbage and I’m struggling to not take my phone to bed for naps and bed time.

Update: Successfully put my phone in the basket before bed. Then got up and got it around 3 am because of a nightmare.

How I’m feeling:

Aside from the wisdom tooth removal, I feel really good about the beginning of my journey to beat my phone addiction. I think starting out simple and easy was a good plan and while it didn’t work out perfectly due to poor planning on my part (or an innate cruelty towards myself) I think I’m off to a solid start.

Regardless of it all, I spent fewer than 20 hours on my phone this week and I’m pretty happy with that.

Next week is going to be the hardest week I think.

Come back next Saturday for an update on week two: phone ban between the 8 pm and 8 am.

How To Read More Often

How To Read More Often

I used to read a lot. I mean constantly. I grew up in a house without cell phone service and all the computers were in public areas. In order to spend quiet time alone, I had to read in my bedroom. I remember my mother banning me from reading when I was enthralled with the Inkheart series as a kid because I was foregoing household responsibilities to read. Now that I work and I am a student, I find it difficult to read for pleasure as often as I used to. I had to ask myself why I don’t read more? Why was it so hard for me to pick up a book and just read it? In my quest to read more books and to read more often, I came to a few realizations: I had become a book collector, not a reader; I was caught up in what I “Should be reading” and not what I wanted to read; and I was comparing what I was reading to what everyone else was reading. After reflecting on these three things, I learned a few things about how to read more books, and how to read more often. I have read more in the last few months than I had in years. 

Reading is a fantastic way to learn, increase your vocabulary, gain more perspectives, keep the mind young, and it’s downright relaxing and entertaining. I was caught up in how successful people take time to read and how many if not all good authors read a lot to learn more about writing. What I had forgotten was the nostalgic feelings I get when I curl up with a book to read with the intention to finish it in one or a few sittings. I used to love to read and I feel guilty for not reading more and reading more often. So why was I not reading more often? Especially if I loved it as much as I thought I did.

Why didn’t I read more?

I became a book collector, not a reader.

I had convinced myself at one point that future Brette had an extensive personal library at her disposal where she would collect all the books she had ever read and books she was going to read. After I started moving towards a minimalist lifestyle, I realized, in my already relatively large book collection, there were so many books I had yet to read and probably never would read. Future Brette had changed, yet I was still moving towards what I used to want, not what I want now. I was collecting books for the sake of having books. I was buying a new book or three every time I went to the thrift store and telling myself I “would read it one day.” I had a massive Amazon wish list for books and was purchasing books like crazy. The hard truth is that I was lying to myself. I was never going to read those “literary classics” that everyone is supposed to read but are actually god awful. But they littered my shelves. I had books that were completely out of my interests that I thought I would suddenly become the kind of person who enjoyed those books if I owned them. Continue reading “How To Read More Often”