About the Book
I am consumed with impure thoughts.
My head is swirling with stories that would give
the Prophet heart failure if he knew of them.
I fear that I am destined for eternal damnation.
In the isolated rural community of Unity, the people of The Movement live a simple life guided by a set of religious principals 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 and to accept her ordained life. At fifteen she is repulsed by the thought of being assigned to an older man and becoming a sister wife. She wants something more for herself but 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.
By now, you’d have to live under a rock to have missed hearing about the various controversies surrounding polygamy in North America. I think it’s fascinating from a educational point of view. The success that these different sects have is really unbelievable, living completely cut-off from the main-stream as they do. They live in their own self-contained worlds where family and community is of the utmost importance. What one person needs, the entire community is prepared to give. But does being part of a community like this take away your individuality? Is each member given the right to speak their voice, to make their choice? And what happens to the person whose thoughts do not reflect the entire family? Does this make them a traitor to their own community?
Sister, Wife examines these thoughts from three conflicting yet complimentary perspectives. Living within a polygamous sect this story gives voice to three young girls, each with a different opinion on how they think life should be lived and how they hope to live their own lives.
Celeste was born into The Movement and will soon be married into a family made up of one older male and a group of sisters. She will share the role of wife, mother and sister. However, she does not she this as the life for her, she dreams of boys her own age rather than old men. And hopes to experience falling in love, not having her husband chosen for her.
Nanette, a few years younger than Celeste sees The Movements way of life as perfect for her. She is happy that a man has already suggested that he may like her to join his family. The idea of living her life surrounded by sisters with one husband as head of the group to be comforting, perhaps because the presence of the other wives will provide her with a never-ending sense of belonging and safety.
Taviana, is the most interesting character to me. She was born into main-stream society and when she found herself in a bad situation a family from Unity adopted her into The Movement. Because of this she has seen both world’s that are open to her. However, because of her past, she wonders whether she could ever be welcomed into the group truly, as a sister-wife. Living in Unity seems agreeable to her at this point, she is cared for and no longer has to worry about staying safe in the world. Soon though, she must make a decision on where her life will lead.
All in all, Sister, Wife was an enjoyable read. It would definitly be a good way for younger readers to learn more of the situation regarding polygamy. The author has written this book in a way that doesn’t press any underlying opinion on the reader. It was not complicated, which I think makes it a good introduction for kids who are wondering exactly what all the media is buzzing about. It also made me, as an adult reader, feel that I would really like to delve deeper into this topic and take on some more serious non-fiction reading.
Just some thoughts that I jotted after reading – nothing to do with the actual book, but rather the topic.
This book and the subject it covers has been on my mind since finishing it. Specifically how to put aside all my previous thoughts on religions and/or organizations that support/practice polygamy. But then I started thinking about whether my thoughts are influenced by the mass-saturation of media coverage or actual fact. So I did a bit of reading. The conclusion that I came to is that polygamy may not be my thing, but in certain situations I can see that it is a reasonable (remember, my opinion only) way to live. Yes, some women (and men) may not want to live in this type of community but many, find it the perfect way to live. I think with any community safety and quality of life are the main things. Yet, consider last years giant raid in Texas, hundreds of children were taken from loving and safe families to be deposited in foster care/children’s centers, in some cases dangerous/abusive places with strangers who looked down on them and ridiculed them. Afterward, officials returned the children stating only that it was a case of misinformation. A year later some of these children are still suffering from the emotional damage of being protected by the Texas State CPS. Anyway, polygamy isn’t something new, it goes back thousands of years, I do agree that it should come down to choice – but when it is part of a communities religious belief, that makes it so much harder. If the general public can tell the FLDS that they cannot continue on with their traditions, where does it stop? Either all religions are ruled by the state/governing body or none. It’s a can of worms that I’m glad I don’t have to open.
About The Author
Shelley Hrdlitschka discovered her love for children’s literature while teaching elementary school in the 1980s. Then, while on a parenting leave, she began writing children’s stories. It took ten years, but she eventually decided to focus on juvenile and young adult fiction and is now the author of six award-winning novels, all published with 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 husband, three daughters and menagerie of pets. When she’s not writing, she can be found hiking, sailing, snowshoeing or hidden away with a book and some good music. (Orca Book Publishers Canada)
|Book Genre:||Young Adult Fiction (12+)|
|Book Type:||Trade Paperback 269 pages|
|Publication Date:||October 2008|
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