After being caught kissing a girl, 17-year-old Jon leaves Unity, the faith-based polygamous community in which they were both born and raised.
Though Jon’s departure is abrupt, it’s not unexpected: According to the Prophet, a man must have at least three wives to get into heaven, and there simply aren’t enough women to go around. Jon is not the first boy to leave Unity: There are several lost boys living in a nearby city who have found shelter with Abigail, a former Unity resident dedicated to helping these runaways build new lives. With Abigail’s support, Jon gets a construction job and a tutor. First-person present-tense narration conveys Jon’s initial bewilderment with mainstream social norms, encouraging readers’ reflection and compassion as he struggles to navigate the outside world. The pacing is uneven, skipping chunks of time as Jon’s life unravels while he grows frustrated by his slow progress in school and drops out. While the story is educational, Jon’s narration in the second half of the book as he encounters many aspects of modern life for the first time—from salt-and-vinegar potato chips to the wonders of the internet—often feels self-conscious and overtly didactic in a way that may not engage readers. Major characters present as white.
This companion novel to Sister Wife (2008) ends on a hopeful note for the young people of Unity struggling to make sense of the world beyond. (Fiction. 13-18)