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Sister Wife – Shelley Hrdlitschka (2008)


Books with subject matter as controversial as this one can often ring false, and bias.


I was surprised that this was not always the case with this book.


There were some judgements, but for the most part they were convincingly that of the characters and not the author.


Though I was cheering for Celeste I kept finding myself trying to decide what I would do if I were in her place.


At times I found some of the men in the Unity community to be caricatures, almost as though they were facsimiles, really rather or two dimensional characters.


These Unity Elder men are only a mild contrast to the Unity wives who also populate the background. With the amount of characters required in a polygamist novel there are times when I felt that Hrdlitschka struggles with making her characters both believable and realistic.


All of the characters that move around the two main characters, fall a little flat. Celeste, who questions The Movement and the religious principles and laws that her, her family, and her community live by, and Taviana, who grew up outside Unity and did terrible things to survive her life on the streets.


The polygamist and the prostitute, both under the age of 18.


I’m not sure if this contrast is meant for shock value, or because the Hrdlitschka thought that Taviana’s background needed to be checkered enough to warrant why a girl would ever willing move to a polygamist commune without such a past to escape from.


I found this difficult to believe, in turn this made much of the story, though interesting, difficult to believe.


Celeste is repulsed by the prospect of being married to a man much older than her, and she is already certain she is not the mothering type, but she feels powerless (and often seems to the reader weak and irresolute).


I will let you read it to discover if Celeste manages to find a way to leave Unity and if Taviana returns to her earlier life style when she is kicked off the compound.

Apparently Sister Wife was inspired by current events.


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  • Wither – Lauren DeStefano

  • Keep Sweet – Michele Greene

  • The Face on the Milk Carton – Caroline B. Cooney

Orca Book Publishers, 2008 269 pages ISBN: 9781551439273

Suggested Reading Level: Grade 10+


Hrdlitschka, S. (2008). Sister wife. Vancouver: Orca.


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