Thursday, September 09, 2010

REVIEW: The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams

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.

Wow. It's been a little difficult to put into words how I felt about this book. I'd read quite a few reviews beforehand and everyone kept using words like 'powerful' and 'emotional' and I can see now what everyone meant. This really isn't the type of book I'd normally pick up, but peer pressure from the blogging community pushed me towards this book. And I'm really glad that I did read this. It makes me angry and sad and hopeful all at the same time, but a few week's time between reading and this review has lessened some of the emotions so I don't come across as raging and angry.

It was kind of heartbreaking to read of Kyra's home life and her struggles against what she's grown up with and the firmly held beliefs of those around her. Kyra's life in this polygamist cult is not easy. Women's lives are not easy. Just look at Kyra's three mothers - all very hard-working and decent women, killing themselves giving birth to babies and cooking and cleaning and raising those children. Everything seemed geared towards men and how to make them happy and satisfied. This is the sad part.

The elders of this community and the decisions they make made me incredibly angry. Punishing a child for crying, giving barely pubescent girls to old men as wives. Using their people's beliefs as a tool to blackmailing people into doing what the Elders and Prophet say. Taking choices and freedoms like reading books and the choice of who can be married to whom away. It's very hard for me to accept that people live in these sort of circumstances. This is the part that makes me angry.

And then there's Kyra's rebellion, in which she was able to find some freedom in the Mobile Library. In books. The image of a 13 year old girl reading Harry Potter sat in the branches of a tree makes me ridiculously happy. As does the idea that there are people out there willing to help at great personal cost to help other people. This is the part that makes me hopeful.

This was a really interesting book, one that induces a lot of emotions. I was able to see something different, I was taken to a different place and was able to feel a great many things. For that, I'm really glad that I was able to read this.


  1. As I said in my review, this made me want to jump on a soapbox and start ranting. Such a powerful book.
    Great review

  2. I agree. All the emotions that I felt while reading this book! I still feel a little outraged at the thought of some of the things that happened in the book!

  3. I imagine this book giving you an instant dislike of men for awhile. This book is getting so much airplay at the moment, with everyone getting so emotional about it. Not sure if I am ready for that emotional rollercoaster yet.

  4. Vivienne - I wasn't sure if I was either! It took a lot out of me.

  5. I HAVE to read this. It sound so completely different.

  6. I keep seeing this book when I'm at the library, and I just haven't had the heart to pick it up. I'm still remembering that FLDS group that was picked up a few years ago, and how creepy it was to see the women interviewed--they all kept their heads down and spoke in very low mumbles about pleasing their men. It gives me the shivers.

  7. I wasn't at all sure that I wanted to read this one but your review has tipped the balance. Thanks for such a thoughtful and articulate post.

  8. Sophie - I read it all in one sitting, it's quite slim but it packs a lot in it. Heartbreaking.

    Jenny - It can definitely be a difficult subject to read about, it does seem as though in The Chosen One that the women are a little broken in that way.

    Splendibird - I wasn't sure I wanted to read it either, but so many people had really interesting things to say about it that I couldn't stop myself!

  9. Great review Clover - I really enjoyed the emotional roller coaster this one took me on! It was a powerful read for sure :o) I've added your link to my review

  10. HI Sarah - glad you enjoyed it as well. I shall have to go and look at your review as well :) Thanks for the link!


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