Saturday, September 21, 2013

Sister wife by Shelley Hrdlitschka

Celeste has been raised as one of the Faithful at Unity. she is a dutiful daughter and follows the rules of the Prophet and the community.  It is a complex life where she must remain pure of thought and body, waiting for the day when the Prophet will reveal the will of God and the man that Celeste will marry.  It is a community where to reach Heaven each man must have many wives and many children, buying the way to the celestial afterlife for all of them.  Unity is the only life Celeste has known, but she finds herself drawn to a boy living in Unity, a boy she will never be allowed to marry under the rules of their faith.

It is not an easy life, and life beyond Unity with the Gentiles is a scary and confusing place - Celeste knows this because of Taviana.  Taviana was taken into Unity after she was found living on the streets, and she has settled into life with Celeste and her large family, but there are still times when she reminds everyone that she is not a true born and bred member of Unity.  When Celeste is forced to make a choice between herself and her family she will discover who she really is - but is she all she could hope to be?

Sister wife is an interesting read from the point of view that it looks at a religious cult, but it lacks the "pop and power" to become really engaging, reading more like a story from a school journal that is full of clich√© and two dimensional characters to get a message across to the reader.  One of the best elements of the novel is that it switches views so you get chapters written from the point of view of one character, and then you get the view from another character. 

I can easily see Sister wife being used as school text because of the theme of religious cults or extreme religious groups, but it lacks the readability to stand on its own merits - I only finished the book in the hopes it would get better, but the ending was a disappointment as it fell rather flat in the end.  If you are looking for a book on extreme religious groups there are better ones out there in terms of readability, but Sister wife does at least cover all the bases if that is what you are looking for.

If you are after more books on religious cults or extreme religious groups try:
  • I am not Esther by Fleur Beale
  • Keep sweet by Michele Dominguez Greene
  • The chosen one by Carol Lynch Williams

Reviewed by Brilla

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