The Essay

A Novel

LIST PRICE $10.99
PRICE MAY VARY BY RETAILER

About The Book

Jimmy Lee Hickam grew up along Red Dog Road, a dead-end strip of gravel and mud buried deep in the bowels of Appalachian Ohio. It is the poorest road, in the poorest county, in the poorest region of the state. To make things worse, the name Hickam is synonymous with trouble. Jimmy Lee hails from a heathen mix of thieves, moonshiners, drunkards, and general anti-socials that for decades have clung to both the hardscrabble hills and the iron bars of every jail cell in the region. This life, Jimmy Lee believes, is his destiny, someday working with his drunkard father at the sawmill, or sitting next to his arsonist brother in the penitentiary. There aren’t many options if your last name is Hickam.   

An inspiring coach and Jimmy Lee's ability to play football are the only things motivating him to return for his junior year of high school—until his visionary English teacher cuts him a break and preserves his eligibility for the coming football season. To thank her, Jimmy Lee writes a winning essay in the high school writing contest. When irate parents and the baffled administration claim he has cheated, his teacher is inspired to take his writing talent as far as it can go, showing him the path out of the hills of Appalachia.            

Terrific characterizations, surprising revelations, gut-wrenching past betrayals, and an unforgettable cast of characters born of the dusty, worn-out landscape of southeastern Ohio make The Essay a powerful, evocative, and incredibly moving novel.  

Product Details

  • Publisher: Arcade (October 8, 2012)
  • Length: 256 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781611458497
  • Ages: 16 - 99

Browse Related Books

Raves and Reviews

“A heart-rending tale . . . with deep insights. The writing is plain and unadorned, and completely in tune with the people and place. Highly recommended.” —Midwest Book Review

"Like Annie Proulx, Richard Russo, and Richard Ford, Robin Yocum knows how to stake out a claim to a very particular part of America and make it uniquely his own. In Yocum's poignant and hard-hitting new novel, THE ESSAY, he explores, with great insight and craftsmanship, the coal mines and out-of-the-way farms and rivers and Friday night football games of southeastern Ohio. Jimmy Lee Hickam may come from a family of outlaws, but he's my latest literary hero. THE ESSAY is a book that young adults and veteran readers alike are going to love."--Howard Frank Mosher

“After reading The Essay, a tough but compassionate story about a poor teenager in southern Ohio who struggles to make good despite his harsh upbringing, I am convinced that Robin Yocum is one of the most talented and graceful writers working in America today. And I mean it when I say that I love this book.”
--Donald Ray Pollock, author of The Devil All the Time and Knockemstiff

In The Essay, Robin Yocum explores just how far we can pull at the ties that tether us to our lives. Can we ever overcome circumstance and family history to chart our own destiny? Inspiring, compelling, and filled with characters I came to care deeply about, this is one story I couldn't put down. -- Carla Buckley, award-nominated author of The Things That Keep Us HereIn The Essay, Robin Yocum explores just how far we can pull at the ties that tether us to our lives. Can we ever overcome circumstance and family history to chart our own destiny? Inspiring, compelling, and filled with characters I came to care deeply about, this is one story I couldn't put down.
-- Carla Buckley, author of The Things That Keep Us Here

“Yocum writes like the reporter he used to be. He’s observant and still has his eye for detail and nuance.”—Richmond Times-Dispatch

“A heart-rending tale . . . with deep insights. The writing is plain and unadorned, and completely in tune with the people and place. Highly recommended.” —Midwest Book Review

"Like Annie Proulx, Richard Russo, and Richard Ford, Robin Yocum knows how to stake out a claim to a very particular part of America and make it uniquely his own. In Yocum's poignant and hard-hitting new novel, THE ESSAY, he explores, with great insight and craftsmanship, the coal mines and out-of-the-way farms and rivers and Friday night football games of southeastern Ohio. Jimmy Lee Hickam may come from a family of outlaws, but he's my latest literary hero. THE ESSAY is a book that young adults and veteran readers alike are going to love."--Howard Frank Mosher

“After reading The Essay, a tough but compassionate story about a poor teenager in southern Ohio who struggles to make good despite his harsh upbringing, I am convinced that Robin Yocum is one of the most talented and graceful writers working in America today. And I mean it when I say that I love this book.”
--Donald Ray Pollock, author of The Devil All the Time and Knockemstiff

In The Essay, Robin Yocum explores just how far we can pull at the ties that tether us to our lives. Can we ever overcome circumstance and family history to chart our own destiny? Inspiring, compelling, and filled with characters I came to care deeply about, this is one story I couldn't put down. -- Carla Buckley, award-nominated author of The Things That Keep Us HereIn The Essay, Robin Yocum explores just how far we can pull at the ties that tether us to our lives. Can we ever overcome circumstance and family history to chart our own destiny? Inspiring, compelling, and filled with characters I came to care deeply about, this is one story I couldn't put down.
-- Carla Buckley, author of The Things That Keep Us Here

“Yocum writes like the reporter he used to be. He’s observant and still has his eye for detail and nuance.”—Richmond Times-Dispatch

Resources and Downloads

High Resolution Images

More books from this author: Robin Yocum