Strange Children

In a polygamist commune in the desert, a sixteen-year-old boy and a twelve-year-old girl fall in love and consummate that love, breaking religious law. They are caught, and a year later, she gives birth to his father’s child while the boy commits murder four hundred miles away—a crime that will slowly unravel the community.

Told by eight adolescent narrators, this is a story of how people use faith to justify cruelty, and how redemption can come from unexpected places. Though seemingly powerless in the face of their fundamentalist religion, these “strange children” shift into the central framework of their world as they come of age.


“Sadie Hoagland’s vast imaginative compassion gives her uncanny access to the minds and bodies of eight strange children, their histories of abuse and longing for transcendence. I fell in love eight times, bearing the children’s pain, witnessing their afflictions. Through their mesmerizing, gorgeously lyrical language, the reader shares the joyful mysteries of spiritual desire, the ecstasies of secret faith, and the terrifying thrill of subversive reinvention. Harrowing and tender, this fiercely intense, exquisitely composed novel transports us from an isolated polygamist community in the wild desert of southern Utah to the bewildering buzz and glitter of urban streets in Salt Lake City, from the raptures of adolescent love to the violent extremes of sexual obsession. If we are biased, if we cling to comfortable misconceptions about people who live beyond our experience, these magnificently beautiful children will pierce and transfigure us.”
—Melanie Rae Thon, author of Silence and Song

“A spellbinding, symphonic marvel of a novel. It could not be stranger, darker, or more illuminating. I found it impossible to put down.”
—Rikki Ducornet, author of The Deep Zoo and The Jade Cabinet

“I admire Strange Children for its mythic grandeur, its intoxicating cadences. This is a novel about a world unraveling, a desert place illuminated by the vulnerable young who belong to it—a place of child brides and murder, predation and exile, solace and exultation. Sadie Hoagland’s heart is spacious and her sentences are marvelously lush.”—Noy Holland, author of Bird

Strange Children Dark purple script that reads Strange Children a novel by Sadie Hoagland surrounded by a design of white and orange flowers.

Sadie Hoagland ( Author Website )

Publication Date: May 18, 2021

Genre/Imprint: Fiction, Red Hen Press

$17.95 Tradepaper

Shop: Red Hen, Bookshop, Barnes & Noble

ISBN: 9781597091169


STRANGE CHILDREN author Sadie Hoagland interviewed in Necessary Fiction!

Sadie Hoagland and Maria Kuznetsova first met in 2008, when they were studying fiction writing at UC Davis under Yiyun Li, Lucy Corin, Lynn Freed, and Pam Houston. Each has a second book out this spring — Kuznetsova’s second novel, Something Unbelievable, from Random House, and Hoagland’s debut novel, Strange Children, from Red Hen Press — so they took this […]

Sadie Hoagland, author of STRANGE CHILDREN, interviewed in Hasty Book List!

Author I draw inspiration from: Toni Morrison. I’ve always loved her work, but watching the documentary about her and realizing that she wrote many of her books while working fulltime as an editor AND being a single mother to two young boys, that is (insert expletive here) amazing. Besides that superhuman aspect of her biography, […]

STRANGE CHILDREN author Sadie Hoagland featured in CrimeReads!

First things first. I’m a true crime junkie. I’m also a fiction writer. And while I do have dreams of pursuing a true crime project, maybe even solving a cold case, I’m pretty entrenched in the writing of novels. There are not a lot of novels that take on true crime—part of the appeal of […]

Q&A from UC Davis with Sadie Hoagland, upcoming author of STRANGE CHILDREN!

Examining Beliefs by Jocelyn Anderson | Apr 19, 2021 | Alumni Authors, Culture In her debut novel, Sadie Hoagland, M.A. ’09, tells a fictional story of faith, cruelty and redemption through eight adolescent narrators. Strange Children (Red Hen Press, 2021) is set in a polygamist commune in the desert — a girl and boy fall in love, breaking religious law. After they […]

Sadie Hoagland’s “Best Books Narrated by Ghosts” snippet.

The Books I Picked & Why Written by Sadie Hoagland Beloved By Toni Morrison Why this book? I cannot talk about ghosts in books with pausing to give homage to the outstanding and heartbreaking story of Sethe and the ghost of her daughter, called Beloved after her gravestone, whom Sethe killed to spare her a life of […]

Sadie Hoagland (STRANGE CHILDREN) author-to-author interview in CRAFT Literary!

SADIE HOAGLAND: John, I so enjoyed reading The Fear of Everything. Each story balances humor and darkness so well, and each piece held the sort of “good surprises” I love in fiction—the unexpected turns. I think one of my favorite moments in the book is in “The Blueprint of Your Brain,” when you are describing why/how Jimmy […]

Sadie Hoagland featured in Scary Mommy!

When my daughter got into Berenstain bears, it was all my fault. I remembered loving the series, associating them with my old school library and a particular comfort there. So I bought her book after book when she was three. As I read them with her, she was fascinated. Here were books about real struggles with family and […]


Sadie Hoagland’s STRANGE CHILDREN reviewed in the Harvard Review Online!

In Sadie Hoagland’s debut novel, Strange Children, eight young narrators struggle to navigate two very different worlds. Some are exiled to the lurid, modern American city, with its microwave dinners, senseless violence, and reflexive consumption. Some are confined to the small desert town of Redfield, with its desolate beauty, penny cakes, and simple God-fearing people (that […]

Sadie Hoagland’s novel STRANGE CHILDREN reviewed in Prism Review!

Sadie Hoagland is the author of the novel, Strange Children. Hoagland is a fiction writer from Louisiana with a PhD from the University of Utah in fiction, as well as an MA in Creative Writing from University of California, Davis. Hoagland currently teaches as a professor of creative writing at the University of Louisiana in […]

STRANGE CHILDREN by Sadie Hoagland reviewed in Midwest Book Review!

An emotionally intense and deftly crafted novel by an author with a genuine flair for originality and a particularly effective narrative storytelling style, “Strange Children” is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to community library Contemporary General Fiction collections.

STRANGE CHILDREN by Sadie Hoagland reviewed in Publishers Weekly!

Hoagland’s lyrical but convoluted debut novel (after the collection American Grief in Four Stages) follows the children of Redfield, a polygamist cult living in a remote Southwest commune. After 16-year-old Jeremiah and 12-year-old Emma are caught having sex, Jeremy’s father, Josiah, drives him toward the nearest town, Pine Mesa, and abandons him on the side […]

Necessary Fiction takes a look at STRANGE CHILDREN by Sadie Hoagland!

Many in our culture are fascinated by polygamy, a popular topic of reality TV, dramas, and news media coverage. It is hard to look away when these stories focus on the most shocking details; almost everyone has seen images of women and young girls in long, buttoned-up dresses and old-fashioned, almost otherworldly hairstyles, their uniformity […]