Friday, June 12, 2009

Sister Wife by Shelley Hrdlitschka (a review)

Sister Wife by Shelley HrdlitschkaSister Wife by Shelley Hrdlitschka is told from the alternating points of view of three teenagers living in the polygamous community of Unity: rebellious Celeste, a 14-year-old girl who is about to be “assigned” to an older man and become a sister wife; virtuous Nanette, Celeste’s younger sister; and Taviana, a young woman who was rescued off the streets by one of the men in the community. This is an interesting device because it allows Hrdlitschka to explore what it would be like to live in Unity from three very different points of view. For the most part, I enjoyed the book: I sympathized with Celeste’s plight and was curious to find out what would happen to her. I particularly loved how Hrdlitschka used the inuksuks to introduce Celeste to another way of looking at the world. Unfortunately, I also felt that Hrdlitschka tried too hard to be non-judgemental, which made the book both less interesting and less realistic. The last chapter in particular seemed to be suggesting that polygamy is just another lifestyle choice that works for some and not for others, which is a dangerous message in my opinion.* In addition, the denouement of Celeste’s story didn’t strike me as particularly realistic. Having said that, I’m still going to recommend Sister Wife, with reservations, to readers who are interested in polygamy, if only because I want to know what you think of the ending!

For other reviews, visit these blogs:
Abby (the) LibrarianA Patchwork of BooksBecky’s Book ReviewsBook AddictionBookshelves of DoomMaw BooksS. Krishna’s BooksTeen Book ReviewThe Book Zombie

Thank you to Cindy at Cindy’s Love of Books for giving me this book to read.

This is the sixth book I review for the New Authors Challenge.

*I’m not suggesting that polygamy is inherently wrong, only that being married off to an older man at the age of 15 is not a lifestyle choice. It actually isn’t a choice at all.


  1. Hmm. I may have to read this one. I feel conflicted for the author. I know we should be proud of our names, but with a last name like hers, I would definitely have gone for a pseudonym of some type.

  2. I went through a phase last year where I read every book on polygamy I could get hold of. Do you know how to pronounce the author's last name?

  3. Avis you are more the welcome for the book.

    My review of it is here:

    The author left a comment on my blog with the pronouncation of her last name.

    Great Review Avis

  4. Great review. I want to read this one.

  5. Seems like an interesting story, I'll have to think about it. Thanks for your honest review. There are a few other books on polygamy that I know I want to read first. Enjoy your Sunday.

  6. I am looking forward to reading more fiction and non-fiction on this topic. This is an area I don't know much about yet and don't have a well-formed opinion on. My gut would say polygamy is more detrimental to women than not, but I guess I'll when I know more.

  7. There definitely seems to be a upsurge in the amount of books covering polygamous communities. I have the 19th Wife and there is the Chosen One as well as this one you reviewed.

  8. Thanks for the review. I had seen this book around, now I know more about it! :)

  9. Can't wait to read this! This topic is so interesting..

  10. I would read this. I haven't ever read too much on the subject. Sounds like a compelling topic. I haven't read enough to "know" but I have to agree with Nicole on this. It feels "wrong"for women over all. (Kind of like a rip off).. And well 15 year old girls being turned over as brides doesn't sit right with me in any way shape or form.

  11. Aerin, I must say I hadn't thought of that until you mentioned it, but it does make some sense.

    Kathy, according to the comment on Cindy's blog, it's actually easy to pronounce: it's Herd-litch-ka.

    Cindy, I apologize for not linking to your review! As you know, I didn't link to it because it contains spoilers...

    Holly, I hope you manage to get your hands on a copy! (and thanks!)

    Thanks, Wisteria.

    Nicole, from what I've read, I would have to say this type of polygamy is very detrimental to women (and children). Maybe it could work under different circumstances, who knows?

    Scrap girl, I know, lots of people are fascinated by this topic. I just won a copy of The Chosen One from Natasha and I can't wait to read it (once I get it)!

    Thanks, Missy!

    I agree, pinkilili! I hope you enjoy it.

    Toni, I totally agree!