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
Sadie Hoagland ( Author Website )
Publication Date: May 18, 2021
Genre/Imprint: Fiction, Red Hen Press
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