Category Archives: Novels


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)

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)





AllegraAllegra hopes that being at a performing-arts high school will change her life and make her a better dancer. But high school is still high school, complete with cliques, competition and cruelty. And home isn’t much better. Forced to take a class in music theory, Allegra takes refuge in writing music with her young teacher who nurtures and appreciates her talent. But when her feelings for him become more intense and he seems to reciprocate, Allegra sets in motion a chain of events that could destroy everything and everyone she loves.

Orca Book Publishers 2014

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Awards and Recognitions

Nominated: Yalsa’s Best Fiction for Young Adults 2014 List


“You can’t hear the music, but you can feel it in this fresh, engrossing story.” Quill and Quire

“Hrdlitschka is known for having her pulse on hot-button issues for teens, and her latest novel, which exams a teacher-student attraction, is no exception. Hrdlitschka does an excellent job of illustrating the subtle, gradual and easily understandable shift in their relationship.” Canadian Children’s Book News

“Hrdlitschka allows Allegra to tell her own story, and her fine ear for teen emotion is well displayed in scenes that reveal Allegra’s social anxiety and panic attacks, her sorrow and disbelief over her parents’ crumbling marriage, and her resistance to unfamiliar feelings of love as handsome, young Mr. Rocchelli begins to fill the emptiness in her life….Teens with a passion for the arts will see themselves in Allegra, whose intensity and flaws make her perfectly relatable.”

“The musical creations  – whether through a rock-band jam session, playing a classical harp, or composing with a digital program – are described with loving detail but a light touch, appealing to both veteran musicians and neophytes, who will relish this opportunity to better appreciate the power of music. Allegra’s artistic pursuits – and intense commitment – will resonate particularly with equally passionate teens, while her social anxiety and strained home life might be familiar, albeit painfully so, to a broader audience.” School Library Journal

“As with all the other characters you have created, I thought you really captured the feelings, struggles, thoughts and actions of the adolescent girl. I could feel her gradual experience of her new sexual feelings…You really know how to portray anxiety and depression and the devastating effects they can have. Another great contribution to teen literature and for adults too!”  Dr. Nonie Lyon

“In her absorbing exploration of contemporary teen life…   Hrdlitschka realistically depicts teenage emotional turmoil as Allegra’s growing obsession with Mr. Rocchelli combines with despair at her parents’ separation and the ups and downs of her new friendships.”Publisher’s Weekly

“Shelley Hrdlitschka could have made Mr. Rocchelli the “bad guy” by having him lead Allegra on but she charitably creates no good guys and bad guys, just characters who are human, trying to do the best they can.  Their way of doing things, including their reactions and interpretations, may be right or they may be wrong, but they don’t seem to have any hidden agendas.  Allegra herself recognizes that she “should” be lively, or that she would at least benefit from being more extroverted, but it’s not always possible to be what others want of us, no matter how beneficial.  But, like her parents, her friends, Mr. Rocchelli and others, Allegra takes what she’s been given and works with it.  Sometimes it’s flat but sometimes it’s a superb orchestral piece with layers of harmonies and melodies that inspire and elevate.” See entire review at

Dancing in the Rain

Dancing in the RainBrenna’s beloved adoptive mother is dead and her birth mother wants nothing to do with her. Grief-stricken, Brenna tries to care for her father and younger sister while reaching out to her biological aunt. The last thing she expects is to fall in love, but Ryan is the one person who knows what Brenna needs in order to move beyond her grief into a place of peace.

Dancing in the Rain continues the story that began in Dancing Naked.

Orca Book Publishers 2013


“Dancing in the Rain is an uplifting, heartwarming book that reminds young readers to look outside themselves for support when times get hard. Hrdlitschka sprinkles some good guidance around, showing her characters making good and not-so-good choices from which they learn. Everybody hurts, and nobody’s life is perfect—not even in the end. But it’s real. And there’s a real beauty in that.” Alex Van Tol, BC Bookworld

“While Hrdlitschka revisits the setting of Dancing Naked, this is not a typical sequel; reading the first book is not necessary to understand this one.” Quill & Quire

“Explores the realistic truth that not all relationships can be mended while also offering healing and hope.” Kirkus Review

“This book could be a good read for young teens who recently lost a parent and are looking for ways to heal.” Canadian Children’s Book News.

Starred review in the Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s BEST BOOKS for Kids & Teens


Just like her character in Dancing in the Rain, Shelley likes to snowshoe and feed whisky jacks.

Reader Reactions

“I’m only on page 45 and have had tears twice!!  You are so gifted!! CAN WE MAKE IT A TRILOGY?!  This book is sooooo good! I love the ending – everything rounds out nicely and realistically. I love how when I read this book it is like a movie going through my head.  This will be a best seller!  I’m emailing Phyllis and telling her to order copies into kidsbooks!! Well done!” Sue Gordon, Retired teacher and Kidsbooks employee

“Dancing in the Rain is a perfect book. I finished it last night and loved every moment of reading it. After chapters one and two, I was sobbing but completely engaged. You developed Brenna and Ryan’s relationship so sweetly and the Grouse Mtn setting of their romance makes it extra special. I really like how you didn’t let us off the hook concerning the heartache surrounding Joanna’s death and the adoption but nevertheless gave us hope…..a terrific bitter sweet ending that seems to leave the door open for a follow-up book.  I could go on and on, but I’ll leave off for now with just adding that I found the chapter epigraphs insightful and inspiring.” Leslie Martin

“I shed quite a few tears while reading your book. Obviously there has to be a third book so we can carry on the story. Shelley Hrdlitschka’s Dancing Trilogy!  Get on it my dear!  Keep Dancing!! Just wish there had been books like this when I was a teen. Those characters are living with me right now, I’m so fond of them all!” Susan Chubb

“Oh Shelley Shelley Shelley! I barely know what to say besides thank you for writing Dancing in the Rain. Wow… I have JUST finished your book. I laughed, I shrieked, and I most definitely bawled my eyes out. You wrote such a beautiful, emotional, truthful, heart wrenchingly wonderful follow up. I could not have ask for anything more.I will be honest, there were parts that were incredibly emotional for me to read. So much of my own life’s experiences could connect with this story. I found myself looking back over my own life and my adoption and how that got me to where I am. And who I am. So many of the questions Brenna had for Kia, I too once had about my own “other” life. I could honestly talk about this for hours. I am just so happy and thankful for this book. I think it has really hit a spot for me and I know I will hold it dear forever.” Christy Brain

“I am impressed each time I read one of your books with the way you are able to enter into the inner world of your protagonists’ thinking and feeling, their inner dialogues.  You have a wonderful ability to create complex characters with complex feeling states!  I appreciated the quotes at the beginning of each chapter.  Many of them really spoke to me.I liked that everything didn’t get tied up in a neat bundle at the end.   And I could go on!  One more: I really liked how you handled the fresh intensity of young love, Brenna’s early doubts and fears, etc.” Dr. Nonie Lyon

“I found this book to be a real page turner from beginning to end and highly recommend this read! Five Stars!!” Karen Upper (Goodreads)


GotchaIt’s ‘bead season’ at Slippery Rock High. This year the bead-snatching grad game called Gotcha has been banned as an official school activity because the teachers have decided to put an end to what they consider a dangerous tradition. The game goes underground, and more grads than ever are participating.

The game quickly spins out of control, and Katie finds herself losing friends and falling victim to her classmates’ obsession with Gotcha. She considers dropping out of the game but then devises a better way of getting even with her classmates.

Orca Book Publishers, 2008

Awards and Recognitions

White Pine Nominee, 2009
Resource Links Best Bet, 2008
Ontario Librarian Association Best Bet, 2008
Pennsylvania Young Reader’s Choice Award nominee

“…teen readers will thoroughly enjoy reading this novel.” Resource Links

“…a fast-paced and thrilling read for older teens, looking closely at the mob mentality, and how even the smartest of people can get swept away.” Canadian Children’s Book News

“…Shelley Hrdlitschka writes with such brilliant pose it’s as if she’s a teenager herself. She understands the high school dynamic very well. She knows that friendships don’t last forever and that people whom you once had an alliance with, can turn their back on you in a heartbeat, both scenarios reflected in this novel.” Teen Review

Sister Wife

Sister WifeIn the isolated rural community of Unity, the people of The Movement live a simple life guided by a set of religious principles and laws that are unique to them. Polygamy is the norm, strict obedience is expected, and it is customary for young girls to be assigned to much older husbands.

Celeste was born and raised in Unity, yet she struggles to fit in and to accept her ordained life. At fifteen she is repulsed at the thought of being assigned to an older man and becoming a sister wife. She wants something more for herself but feels powerless to change her destiny because rebelling would bring shame upon her family.

Torn from the headlines and inspired by current events, Sister Wife is a compelling portrait of a community where the laws of the outside world are ignored and where individuality is punished.

Orca Book Publishers 2008

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Awards and Recognitions

Finalist, Governor General’s Literary Award, 2009
White Pine Honour Book, 2010
Resource Links Best Bet 2008
Canadian Library Association Honour Book
Included on the International Reading Association’s Young Adult Choices list
Voice of Youth Advocates Top Shelf Fiction list
ALA Best Book for Young Adults


“…compelling…authentic.”- VOYA

“Highly Recommended.” – CM Magazine

Sun Signs

Sun SignsUnable to attend school while she battles cancer, fifteen-year-old Kaleigh Wyse tries to complete her classes online by correspondence. Developing a science project on astrology, Kaleigh enlists other online learners as study participants. What starts as a collaborative project slowly becomes unwieldy and then flawed when it is apparent that all her online friends are hiding vital clues about their identities.

Sun Signs examines the danger of blind faith in an electronic age and the ease with which our identities, in the absence of traditional clues, can shift and change.

Orca Book Publishers, 2005

Awards and Recognitions
White Pine Nominee, 2006
Manitoba Young Readers Choice Award Nominee, 2007
ALA Popular Paperback, 2006
Snow Willow Nominee, 2007
CCBC Our Choice selection
Chicago Public Schools Battle of the Books Nominee

Kat’s Fall

Kat's Fall

Darcy’s mother is getting out of jail. Ten years ago she was convicted of throwing his baby sister off a fifth floor balcony. Kat survived, but Darcy has spent the last decade raising his sister, giving her the love and support she has been denied by an absent mother and an uncaring father

As he grudgingly re-establishes ties with the mother he thinks he hates, he is accused of a horrific act. It will take incredible strength – his own and others – to fight the charges, but he finds that truth is often an elusive concept and that trust and love are powerful allies.

Orca Book Publishers, 2004

Awards and Recognitions

White Pine Honour Book, 2005
ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers, 2005
The Crime Writers of Canada Arthur Ellis Award Nominee, 2005
Manitoba Young Readers Choice Award Nominee, 2006
Selected for Inclusion in the New York Public Library’s 2005 Books for the Teen Age List

BC Book Award Nominee, 2005


“This powerful novel is both heart wrenching and shocking.” – School Library Journal

“Riveting” – VOYA

Dancing Naked

Dancing NakedDancing Naked takes us with 16-year-old Kia on her journey through pregnancy and tough decisions. The novel begins, daringly, with a birth and ends, fittingly, with a rebirth. In between, we accompany Kia through emotional twists and turns as she finds the courage to follow her own path and, in doing so, changes the lives of an elderly woman and a youth worker at her church group.

Orca Book Publishers, 2001

Awards and Recognitions
ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers 2003
ALA Best Book Nominee 2003
ALA Popular Paperback 2005
Canadian Library Association Y/A Honour Book 2002
White Pine Award 2002
The CCBC Our Choice List 2002
International Reading Association Choice For Young Adults


“Hrdlitschka manages to cover several sensitive topics with grace, care and insight with a cast of fully realized characters.” VOYA

“The subject matter, plus strong writing and plotting invites recreational reading, also consider this for curriculum support.” Booklist

Tangled Web

Tangled WebSeparated at birth and only reunited through circumstance and a savage crime, fifteen-year-old twins Alex and Tanner are slowly getting to know each other and becoming accustomed to the idea of being brothers, albeit brothers with barely controllable psychic abilities. While spending their summer vacation together they find that their past has resurfaced and they are in danger – again! The boys concoct a daring plan to save themselves and bring down the threatening criminal gang at the same time.

First introduced in Disconnected (Orca, 1998) Alex and Tanner learn that while blood ties are important, the connections we develop through daily interaction are just as crucial, especially when the going gets tough. Tangled Web is a gripping tale of family loyalty and the importance of doing the right thing,no matter the cost.

Orca Book Publishers, 2000

Awards and Recognitions
BC 2000 Book Award

“Exciting and fast-moving, the action will keep readers engaged.” School Library Journal

“In this fast-paced sequel to Disconnected, Hrdlitschka maintains plot momentum and adds some satisfying new complications for 15-year-old telepathic twins, Alex and Tanner.” Booklist