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 perceived as a sign of coerced submission. Sadie Hoagland’s mesmerizing novel, Strange Children, follows a group of young people from a fictional polygamist cult called Redfield, in Utah. Hoagland stitches together the past and present of this fundamentalist religious community through eight first-person narrators. The novel’s structure and rotating narrators gives voice to those still in the community, those banished, and speaks to the outside world’s perception of them. The story is told with compassion and intelligence that sheds light on the complexity of this topic — the abuse and indoctrination, the lasting impact of trauma, and also the bonds formed in a shared community.
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