Author: Carol Lynch Williams
Published: May 12, 2009
Dates Read: June 21- 28, 2017
My Rating: 5 stars
Description from Amazon:
Thirteen-year-old Kyra has grown up in an isolated community without questioning the fact that her father has three wives and she has twenty brothers and sisters, with two more on the way. That is, without questioning them much—if you don’t count her secret visits to the Mobile Library on Wheels to read forbidden books, or her meetings with Joshua, the boy she hopes to choose for herself instead of having a man chosen for her.
But when the Prophet decrees that she must marry her sixty-year-old uncle—who already has six wives—Kyra must make a desperate choice in the face of violence and her own fears of losing her family forever.
I first came across The Chosen One in my local library in 2014. I was looking for my next audiobook and found it. The description on the audio case left me not expecting much:
Kyra is a member of the Chosen Ones, a polygamist group isolated from the rest of its community. Suffocating from the restrictions placed upon her, Kyra’s only form of rebellion is checking out library books and immersing herself within them up in her favorite tree.
The Chosen One exceeded my low expectations! It is so much more than that description. It made my list of top reads for 2014. Now that I have this site, I wanted to listen to it again and properly review it here. The Chosen One is a novel that will evoke a very wide range of emotions in the reader, as I experienced. Despite being a young adult novel, it is a disturbing one that deals with many issues which could be troubling to some readers. I will mention this a little later.
The Chosen One centers on Kyra who is also our narrator. She lives in a polygamist community and is almost 14 years old. She has three mothers with twenty brothers and sisters and two more siblings on the way. From the beginning you can tell Kyra has torn feelings about her community, despite loving her large family. In the beginning she believes she is going to Hell for her ‘sins’: wishing the Prophet dead, liking a boy, and reading books other than the scriptures. Then one day the Prophet announces to her family that he received a ‘vision from God’ that Kyra is to become the seventh wife to her uncle who is over 60 years old, and the marriage is to take place in a month. From this point on she becomes determined to leave and you can feel her growth over the course of the novel.
The Chosen One will not be for everyone. The Chosen One feels very realistic. Carol Lynch Williams did her research well. There are some issues in this novel that may disturb some readers: Incest, assault, sexual assault, subservience, and girls being force into marriage with much older men.
There is a scene that involves a severe beating of one girl because she ‘disobeyed’, as well as a scene with a premature birth. The most disturbing scene for me was one where some parents are forced to ‘punish’ a baby that is under one year old for crying in front of the Prophet. (A screaming child is considered a disobedient child). All I will say about the ‘punishment’ is that it involves water.
The Chosen One is very well written; you get pulled into the novel as Kyra narrates and you really want her to get away from the community. You feel everything that that Kyra feels through the course of the novel. She is truly conflicted with getting away, yet she knows if she does get away that she will never see her family again. Williams puts us into the head of a young teen girl perfectly.
Williams was interviewed in the audiobook that I listened to. It took her two years to write The Chosen One and it was very difficult for her to write because of the subject matter. In addition to research she spoke with polygamists and former polygamists. One former polygamist she spoke with apparently asked William’s daughter, “How did she know?” after he read the book. That’s how realistic this novel is.
The Chosen One is highly recommended.