Thursday, June 25, 2009

THE CHOSEN ONE by Carol Lynch Williams

Having watched specials on Dateline and 20/20 about the topic of polygamy and cult-like communities, I was interested to read THE CHOSEN ONE. It is the story of a young girl living in a religious community calling themselves The Chosen. Having multiple wives is part of their belief, and Kyra is about to learn that she will be marrying her uncle, a man some fifty years older.

Kyra loves her family. She lives with Mother Sarah, one of her father's three wives. Even though Mother Claire may sometimes be mean, and Mother Victoria has her own children to focus on, their family is held together by Kyra's loving and attentive father. She knows not all the families of The Chosen are the same as hers, but she never envisioned herself becoming part of one of those other families.

At age thirteen Kyra has been quietly and secretly spreading her wings. Years ago the Prophet forced the burning of all books except the Bible, but Kyra recently discovered the Ironton County Mobile Library on Wheels on one of her walks off the community property. The library van driven by a young man named, Patrick, becomes a haven for Kyra. She checks out and secretly reads books like THE BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA and HARRY POTTER.

Kyra has also become friends with Joshua. Actually, they are becoming more than friends. They sneak out at night to meet in secluded areas around the community. Stolen hand-holding and stolen kisses turn into young love, and Joshua tells Kyra he will meet with Prophet Childs and state his desire to marry her. This secret life is dangerous and could result in severe punishment, but Kyra believes it is worth the risk.

Then the incredible happens. Prophet Childs announces he has had a vision. His vision has Kyra becoming the seventh wife of her Uncle Hyrum. Not only is he her father's brother, but he is also old and mean. Even the fact that he is an Apostle and lives in a grand house compared to Kyra's little trailer doesn't make marriage to him something she can tolerate. Can her father help her or can Joshua's offer of marriage save her? Or is running away the only escape?

Author Carol Lynch Williams captures the wide range of emotions that Kyra experiences as she battles to maintain her identity in a world focused on keeping women and children under strict and threatening control. As a reader, I was also filled with a mix of emotions - anger, fear, sadness, and sympathy. It is difficult to believe there are actually communities like the one described here and in those Dateline and 20/20 specials. THE CHOSEN ONE is definitely a book that will stay with me for a long time to come.


The Book Muncher said...

oh yeah, this was a fantastic story :D great review!!

also, i added you to my blogroll :D

robin_titan said...

great review!

I shall have to read this one asap, I got it recently but haven't had the chance to read it yet. Can't wait. :)