Shelley Hrdlitschka's Sister Wife is actually one story told from three points of view, and what a riveting read it is! Fifteen year old Celeste, raised in the fundamental polygamist society of Unity, knows her time to be married to a man chosen by the group's Prophet is rapidly approaching. It's how she's been raised and all she's ever known, and her only way to achieve the highest celestial glory in heaven. So what's the problem? Her heart skips a beat whenever she sees Jon, another teen, though she knows she'll be forbidden to be with him. Added to that is her pregnant mother's scary health condition and the removal of a friend from the community by the Prophet, and Celeste finds herself questioning the teachings of her way of life.
Moving deftly between the points of view of Celeste, Taviana (a runaway adopted into Unity and subsequently forced to leave), and Nanette, Celeste's younger sister, Sister Wife showcases the angst and frustration of feeling an outcast in what should be a safe haven. Celeste is sure that she doesn't want to become a plural wife to a much older man, but her headstrong disobedience can only result in that happening all the sooner. Nanette cannot understand Celeste's reluctance to accept the lifestyle; Taviana finds herself needing to start over in a safe house after she is dismissed. All three young women face crises of faith, perseverence, and conscience as they determine what's really important in life.
I was riveted from the first pages of Sister Wife, and I loved how the author moved among the personalities, weaving a tale that was heart wrenching. This book doesn't make it easy to know what is right and wrong because as the young women come to understand, those concepts can vary from person to person. If the ending did seem a bit rushed, I can forgive it because I was totally engrossed by the emotions invoked and the ideas created in this fascinating tale. Highly recommended to readers of all ages.
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Tammy Koudelka McCann (taminator40)
I'm a tall person trapped in a short person's body.
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Celeste lives in Unity, a community centered around the strict religious ways of the Movement, and one of their chief tenets is polygamy. Celeste’s impending fifteenth birthday means she will soon be assigned a husband, though secretly she harbors doubts. Her “impure thoughts”—simple and recognizable teen lust—are further stoked by her true-believer sister, Nanette, and Taviana, a former teen prostitute taken in by the Movement. The story shuttles between the first-person accounts of the three protagonists, and although their voices are sometimes too similar, their accounts of subservient life are fascinating. When Taviana is kicked out of Unity, the difficulties of adjusting to civilian life are clearly illustrated. Although Hrdlitschka is careful not to condemn, her details are damning—Celeste’s mother, one of her father’s five wives, is dying because her womb can’t handle her seventh straight baby, yet community doctrine prevents a doctor’s interference. Such specifics make this an infuriating book about faith—which is entirely appropriate. Grades 9-12. --Daniel Kraus