Lost Boy

Lost Boy

Raised in a polygamous community, Jon starts to question the rules of his faith. After he is caught kissing a girl, he is forced to flee his town and the only life he knows. He finds a community of other Lost Boys, or “polygs,” but is utterly unprepared for life outside his community of Unity. He spirals into a life of numbing booze, drugs and homelessness. When he hits rock bottom, someone from his past enters his new life and helps him find his way.

Jon and several of the novel’s other characters were introduced in Shelley Hrdlitschka’s earlier novel Sister Wife.

Available October, 2018

Orca Book Publishers 

Awards and Recognitions:

Included on the CCBC’s BEST BOOKS for Kids & Teens list


Well written and thoroughly researched, Lost Boy offers a brief but thorough look into religious polygamy and cult dynamics in a realistic and matter-of-fact way. While it is technically a sequel to Hrdlitschka’s novel Sister Wife, Lost Boy works well as a stand-alone. Hrdlitschka provides a satisfying conclusion that is hopeful yet realistic and leaves readers with no doubt that Jon still has a lot of work ahead of him. (Quill & Quire)

Lost Boy is a compelling coming-of-age novel that offers some insight into the polygamist lifestyle. Hrdlitschka provides relatable, intriguing conflict. In a a sting of events that leads the protagonist in a downward spiral, readers can’t help but be mindful of how the choices we make affect more than just ourselves; they also impact those we care most about.

Though Unity represents an atypical experience, the lessons the protagonist learns are universal. Jon must take ownership for his choices rather than lay victim to the past. Lost Boy also provides very real examples of loving kindness from strangers who help Jon along his path; we see exemplary behaviour pitted against self-destructive attitudes for a coming-of-age story that will appeal to both males and females. (Canadian Children’s Booknews)

What sets it apart from much of the teen literature available is its sensitive nature…Lost Boy can be used as a tool to understanding other ways of life and the practice of polygamy…Themes of poverty, perseverance, new beginnings and family are all overarching themes present in this novel. Recommended.  (CM Magazine)

The 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. (Kirkus)

BC Bookworld Review: https://bcbooklook.com/2019/05/04/543-in-unity-is-not-strength/

Reader Reactions:

I just finished Lost Boy this morning and I think it is wonderful!I loved it so much. You’ve done an amazing job telling that story and the struggles that teens face in those repressive communities. I loved the new community that Jon eventually finds and is part of in his post-polygamous life. Such a hopeful story in the end. (Debbie Hodge, author)

I have just finished reading your latest book and couldn’t put it down! I love how you create such vivid images in my mind as I read the words you have written. I feel like I’m watching the story unfold in front of me, not just words being read. Thank you for another great read! (Sue Gordon, former employee of Kidsbooks.)

Oh, this book was gut wrenching and so lovely! Wasn’t prepared to be as immersed in the story as I instantly became. It’s a great read, eye opening and touching. The ending was an amazing conclusion to the story, not only was everything ‘tied’ together, but it felt real and worthwhile. (Elizabeth Hunter, Goodreads)

Once again, a winner!  I really appreciate how you manage to avoid the good/bad and find the complexity in the situations, in your characters and their feelings.  I did hope that Jon would find purpose and hope in his life and he did with Hope as well as the support and caring of some others too.  Thank you!  Even Jon’s father became a sympathetic character for me.  Not the Prophet though, that would not have been credible.
The immense challenges of leaving one culture and trying to survive in another one fundamentally different became increasingly understandable as Jon’s struggles evolved.  The school teacher’s comment about not having the foundations to support the new information was like a metaphor for the various dimensions of his situation.  I can imagine your book being useful with teens from different cultures just as Catcher in the Rye and The Absolutely True Diary…was for Jon. (Dr. Nonie Lyon)

That whole Polygamist way of life is fascinating isn’t it?  So interesting to think there are still children being raised in these communities, so very different from our lives. And what an extreme adjustment for those who leave after a lifetime of being raised with those beliefs. You handled that so beautifully, I could just feel how challenging it was for those kids through your writing. (And I still can’t get over Celeste being married off to Jon’s Dad! That horrible Prophet!) (Susan Chubb)

I found your book, Lost Boy, and I am thoroughly enjoying it. I teach students who feel weighed down by their parents’ religious beliefs and their main complaint is not having control over who they get to be.  I will definitely be recommending this book to all my students.  Thank you for creating this story and sharing it with young readers.  (High School English teacher)