Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Book Review: "The Chosen One" by Carol Lynch Williams

The Scoop: (Goodreads)

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.

My Take:This book was amazing! Williams took on (and conquered) the daunting task of putting a sympathetic face on the sometimes reprehensible (certainly in this book) practice of polygamy. And she does this in a YA novel, to boot. So, Kyra is born within a polygamous sect, but has dreams of the outside world thanks to the Mobile Library on Wheels that gives her a tenuous connection to another lifestyle.

What an amazing idea! I haven't seen one of these since I was a kid....

When her dirty-old-man-uncle comes a-calling for her thirteen-year-old hand, she knows she needs to find a way out. This isn't Big Love we're talking about here people, or Sister Wives. This tale is more like a storyline you would see with the were-panthers of True Blood

I think these guys are insane, but at least they are grown adults who have made their own choices.

The Prophet (the group's leader) has slowly eroded away the colony's freedoms (like reading any book but the Bible) and has a standing, armed God Squad to keep people in line. Murder happens just often enough to keep everyone towing the line for God.

What I found immensely compelling about The Chosen One wasn't the big developments, but the small moments. I wanted Kyra to hightail it out of there ASAP, but I slowly understood why she kept choosing to stay despite everything. Her family (all three Mothers, multiple siblings and Dad) are there. They are a different family, but they are hers and they love each other deeply. Yes, her parents made horrible choices that subsequently led to her present circumstances, but they adore her, their family and their community.

Williams has created a beautiful tale that sheds light on the underground world of polygamous sects. Kyra is a strong, young heroine you want to hug, take in, root for and protect. She is simply amazing.

Final Verdict:

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