Sister Wife

( 31 )

Overview

In the isolated rural community of Unity, the people of The Movement live a simple life guided by a set of religious principles and laws that are unique to them. Polygamy is the norm, strict obedience is expected and it is customary for young girls to be assigned to much older husbands.

Celeste was born and raised in Unity, yet she struggles to fit in. Perhaps it's because of Taviana, the girl who has come to live with them and entertains Celeste with forbidden stories, or Jon, ...

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Sister Wife

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Overview

In the isolated rural community of Unity, the people of The Movement live a simple life guided by a set of religious principles and laws that are unique to them. Polygamy is the norm, strict obedience is expected and it is customary for young girls to be assigned to much older husbands.

Celeste was born and raised in Unity, yet she struggles to fit in. Perhaps it's because of Taviana, the girl who has come to live with them and entertains Celeste with forbidden stories, or Jon, the young man she has clandestine meetings with, or maybe it's the influence of Craig, the outsider she meets on the beach. Whatever it is, she struggles to accept her ordained life. At fifteen she is repulsed at the thought of being assigned to an older man and becoming a sister wife, and she knows for certain she is not cut out to raise children. She wants something more for herself, yet feels powerless to change her destiny because rebelling would bring shame upon her family.

Torn from the headlines and inspired by current events, Sister Wife is a compelling portrait of a community where the laws of the outside world are ignored and where individuality is punished.

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Editorial Reviews

A Patchwork of Books Blog
Very well-written and filled with realistic and honest characters, Sister Wife is not to be missed...definitely in my top 5 books read this year.
— Amanda Snow
Tri State Young Adult Book Review Committee
"Hrdlitschka delivers a compelling teen novel, ripped from the headlines, yet thoughtful and peopled with strong characters."
K.C. Dyer
"Hrdlitschka weaves this tale with her usual skill - with warmth and humour, and allows humanity to bloom in the most unexpected corners of the world she has built. It's an amazing read from an author who continues to surprise and entertain with every book she writes."
CBC Radio One - All Points West
"[Shelley Hrdlitschka] has done a fabulous job of creating this other world for us...Compelling storytelling about characters you really come to care about."
CM Magazine
"Hrdlitschka handles the sensitive areas of sex and abuse skillfully, keeping the emphasis on a young woman's attempts at understanding herself and coping with difficulties rather than the actual acts. Highly recommended."
Booklist
"Although Hrdlitschka is careful not to condemn, her details are damning...Such specifics make this an infuriating book about faith - which is entirely appropriate."
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"Readers drawn by a topic that's been newsworthy of late may come away with a broader understanding of the human possibilities within such communities."
Resource Links
"[Hrdlitschka] challenges readers to examine their own ideas and beliefs about relationships, family and religion...Teen readers will thoroughly enjoy reading this novel!"
TeensReadToo.com
"Having three different points of view was an excellent idea... Sister Wife is an interesting look at a polygamous community and how it affects the children within those religious sects."
Fresno County Public Library
"A fascinating portrayal of life in a polygamist community. I couldn't put it down."
Tucson Unified School District
"An out of the ordinary interpretation of cult life in a polygamist community. Recommended."
Library Media Connection
"This book will lead to much discussion about the power of faith and how less conventional faiths are viewed in the larger community. Recommended."
The Bookmark (BCTLA)
"Beautifully written. The characters of Celest, Taviana and Nanette are sensitively handled...A compelling read."
Canadian Children's Book News
*no details*
Southwestern Ohio Young Adult Materials Review Group
*no details*
A Patchwork of Books Blog - Amanda Snow
"Very well-written and filled with realistic and honest characters, Sister Wife is not to be missed...definitely in my top 5 books read this year."
Barrington Area Library, IL - Abby Johnson
"I really enjoyed this book and the more I though about it, the more I liked it...This is one that will appeal to teens and adults alike."
Maw Books Blog Natasha Maw
"Sister Wife is a great look at what keeps us loyal to our families, our faith, and our traditions and leads me to ask myself which character would I be if I was raised in such a community. Recommended."
Becky's Book Reviews blog Becky Laney
"An excellent book, a fascinating book...packed with ethical implications."
Children's Literature - Carlee Hallman
This story of life in a polygamous cult is told from the points of view of three teenage girls. At the age of 15, girls are assigned to be wives of older men. Each man is expected to have at least three wives who consider themselves sisters. The wives are expected to have as many children as possible. Taviana was invited by a kindly member to enter the community from a life on the street. She was content until she was kicked out because the law was looking for her, and the Prophet feared adverse publicity. Celeste, who becomes 15, is influenced by Taviana and has a crush on a neighboring boy from the cult. Nanette, Celeste's younger sister, is looking forward to being assigned a husband, but one she already likes. The conflicts between absolute obedience to the Prophet versus thinking for oneself, accepting medical science or allowing women to die in childbirth, and arranged versus love marriages drive the story. Descriptions of personal resolution through concentration while building balanced stone sculptures and inuksuks, stone markers from the Inuit tradition, are interesting. The treatment of young women like chattel by older men is sickeningly vivid. Although the tragedies and conflicts keep the interest up, this is not a book for everyone. Reviewer: Carlee Hallman
KLIATT - Claire Rosser
This novel is a version of a dystopian story in science fiction, except that the society it tells of could be one that exists today. (The story of the Texas community recently in the news because of polygamy and marriage between older men and young teenage girls comes to mind.) Avoiding the inflammatory elements in such a story, Hrdlitschka uses three narrators, three young women, who have their experience with the community called Unity to relate. One of the teenage girls, Taviana, was adopted into the community just 18 months previously, escaping a life on the streets where she supported herself through prostitution. For her, Unity means family life and love and security—but she is never quite accepted because of her past. Celeste, at 15, is a beloved daughter. She has been dutiful all her life. But now her father is talking about her marriage, and the thought of an arranged marriage with an older man has become difficult for her to accept, especially since she is flirting with a young man her age and is eager to discover what she would like for her own life. Her own mother, only 32 years old, is very ill with a difficult pregnancy with her 8th child; the community doesn't want to seek the help of doctors, and Celeste doesn't want such a life for herself. Celeste's younger sister Nanette is the third narrator. She is eager to marry an older man, even though she is just 13 years old herself. When Celeste becomes rebellious, Nanette is happy to tattle on her, even though the consequences nearly destroy Nanette's happiness as well as Celeste's. I appreciate the author's portrayal of this alternative religious life. She carefully considers the positive as well as negative aspects ofsuch a rigid community structure, and there are no villains, really. She also avoids sentimental endings in the three narrators' lives, and the reader couldn't predict the outcomes. One would have thought Celeste would leave to join her teenage love instead of going through with the marriage. That doesn't happen, and yet, the ending for Celeste's story is filled with nuance and hope. The use of the stone inuksuk, part of the Inuit culture, is a powerful theme in Sister Wife, and is described as a… "marker that signifies safety, hope and friendship. It speaks to a spirit, to what's inside us, yet its meaning is whatever the builder gives it." You'll have to read the story for yourself to see how the inuksuk changes the characters' lives. Reviewer: Claire Rosser
Tara Griner
A fictional story set on a polygamist compound and told through the eyes of three adolescent girls, Sister Wife is an instantly engaging novel that offers insight into the pressures and struggles young girls in polygamist communities face. The fictional town of Unity is a highly structured community where young girls are expected to care for siblings, be married to a man as old as their fathers, and live in a household with multiple wives and their children. The last thing they are supposed to want is to leave. Celeste, her sister Nanette, who is strictly and steadfastly committed to following the ways of her faith, and Taviana, a young girl welcomed and then ostracized from Unity, alternate as the narrator. After Celeste begins to discover a desire for independence through a series of clandestine meetings with a local artist, experiencing romantic feelings for a boy of her own age, is faced with the choice of staying to honor her family and their traditions or leaving to forge her own way in the world. Reviewer: Ta ra Griner
VOYA - Molly Krichten
Celeste is a fourteen-year-old girl growing up in Unity, a religious community. The people of The Movement are guided by a leader called The Prophet, and a mainstay of their society is plural marriage. Celeste knows that when she turns fifteen, she will be assigned to an older member of the community, and she will have to assimilate into his already-established family and perform the duties of a sister wife. With some influence from an outsider turned Movement member, Taviana; Celeste's conservative and faithful sister, Nanette; a questioning and attractive male Movement member, Jon; as well as outsider Craig, Celeste deals with making difficult decisions whose long-term implications will affect her life-whether she stays or leaves Unity. Hrdlitschka effectively shares the details of life on a religious commune and does not shy away from touchy subjects. The characters could easily have become one-dimensional, but Hrdlitschka effectively draws each as a compelling individual. The story takes some amazing turns in the last quarter of the book. Readers who enjoyed Cecilia Galante's The Patron Saint of Butterflies (Bloomsbury, 2008/VOYA June 2008) will likely enjoy this novel. The cover, which is similar to those on Jodi Picoult's work, will add to its appeal. Overall this compelling story combines with authentic characters to pique the interest of a wide array of teens and get them talking about faith and free will. Reviewer: Molly Krichten
School Library Journal

Gr 8 Up

Celeste was born into Unity, an isolated polygamist sect. Faith, purity, and obedience are the strictures that her family and community live by. Now 15, the age at which she must marry, Celeste experiences thoughts and feelings at odds with her apparently safe and well-ordered world. She is attracted to a boy her own age, but she knows that the Prophet assigns girls to older men. Her mother's life as a fifth wife is sad and limited, and the woman almost dies during a difficult pregnancy with her eighth child. The story of Celeste's intellectual and emotional awakening is told through the eyes of three teens: Celeste herself; her younger and more faithful sister Nanette; and Taviana, a secular street girl who is taken in by the cult and then kicked out. Many have left cult life, but for Celeste the struggle to discover her true self is huge and the outcome is less certain. How can she choose between her beloved family and the outside world with all its dangers, temptations, and opportunities? The characters, from the multilayered Celeste to the elders of the cult and the confused boys whom Celeste encounters, are all believable individuals engaged in their own struggles. The attractions and rewards of life within a well-ordered hierarchical system are portrayed, as are the inevitable abuses of power and the destruction of the human spirit when choice is not an option. Celeste's struggle is long and hard, and her ultimate choices are realistic as well as satisfying. This novel gives depth and nuance to an experience that is portrayed without subtlety in the popular press.-Carolyn Lehman, Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781551439273
  • Publisher: Orca Book Publishers
  • Publication date: 11/1/2008
  • Pages: 280
  • Age range: 14 - 18 Years
  • Lexile: NC680L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Shelley Hrdlitschka discovered her love for children's literature while teaching school. She decided to try writing her own books, and is now the award-winning author of nine novels for teens, all published by Orca Book Publishers.

Shelley offers school and library presentations on the value of perseverance. She describes the pitfalls she encountered on her path to becoming a published author and discusses where ideas come from using examples from her books. She touches on numerous literary devices, tailored to the age of the audience. Shelley also reads from some of her many rejection letters-the part of the presentation that students seem to like most. She is also available for writing workshops.

Shelley lives in North Vancouver, British Columbia, with her three daughters and an assortment of animals. When she's not writing, she can be found hiking, snowshoeing, practicing yoga or hidden away with a book and some good music. More information can be found at http://shelleyhrdlitschka.wordpress.com.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 31 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(13)

4 Star

(10)

3 Star

(7)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

(0)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 32 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 13, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by LadyJay for TeensReadToo.com

    In the isolated community of Unity, Celeste and her family live simple, yet structured lives. They are members of the Movement, a religious sect created by a man called the Prophet. <BR/><BR/>In this community, polygamy is widely accepted, strict obedience is expected of all women and children, and young girls are married off to men who are much older than they are. <BR/><BR/>Celeste wishes to be pure of heart, but cannot help asking questions about the world outside of Unity. She also wonders what it would be like to marry for love instead of obligation. Celeste knows that to be a good daughter, she must welcome the Prophet's decisions with open arms, but her growing curiosity won't allow that to happen. <BR/><BR/>Celeste does not wish to bring shame upon her family, but her actions will hurt them more than she intends. <BR/><BR/>I enjoyed this novel because the subject matter is timely, almost as if it were ripped from the headlines of a national newspaper. I also felt that having three different points of view was an excellent idea. Nanette, Celeste's sister, and Taviana, a new disciple of the Movement, discuss their feelings and beliefs within the community while Celeste carries the narrative. These three women have very different experiences within Unity, and yet, they are undoubtedly connected. <BR/><BR/>SISTER WIFE is an interesting look at a polygamous community and how it affects the children within those religious sects.

    9 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 12, 2012

    Sister Wife

    This story is about a teenager who was born & raised in the polygamy faith and the struggle she goes through in deciding whether to stay within the confines of the community & be subjected to marry a man who is old enough to be her father & whom she does not love or leave the only life she's ever known & disgrace her family's name. The ending in the story is very abrupt, but the epilogue does summarize what happened.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2011

    Amazing book

    I recommend this book for all teen girls, it was very powerful and really showed how a person can pull through anything no matter how hard

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 22, 2011

    Loved

    Amazing book. It had great detail of that lifestyle. Its such a sad way to live

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 18, 2012

    Not a true piece of work

    This was copied off the chosen one.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 22, 2012

    Good

    Good book

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 1, 2012

    good reading

    great book showing the strength of a woman

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2012

    Good book

    I really enjoyed this book. It gave a look into a completely different lifestyle, and how different members of the same family can be.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2012

    Easy Read

    It wasnt a great book, but it was a goid, simple to folliw story

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2012

    Decent

    It was interesting to see the situation from three very different points of view. It was a quick, easy read.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2011

    Amazing book!

    This story was so engaging, i love how it ended!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2011

    Amazing read ...

    When i first started reading this book it made me sad as a 15 year old child my self. I would never be able to imagine the things this girl goes through. I first thought it would end sad but after reading it all the way through i was truely amazed how strong someone could be. I highy recemend this book to any one who comes across it.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 29, 2011

    Sad story

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 5, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 16, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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    Posted March 1, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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    Posted April 3, 2012

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    Posted December 13, 2011

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 32 Customer Reviews

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