rating: 4 of 5 stars
Carol Lynch Williams presents a heart pounding, engaging novel about a girl growing up in a Polygamist community, under the watchful eye and controlling thumb of a God-like figure, The Prophet. The Chosen One seems ripped from recent headlines about the infiltration of these communities and rescues of children ordered to marry men more than twice their ages, bear children, and become one of several wives.
Kyra is 13, impressionable and yet keenly aware that the way her family lives isn’t usual or normal or maybe not even right. She dares to do things she is not supposed to do– like read, speak to boys, sneak off and be alone with them under cover of darkness. The story begins with a visit from the most respected and revered man in the community– The Prophet.
The entire family is anticipating good news, especially Kyra’s father. It is not good news when it is decreed that 13 yr old Kyra will marry her 60 year old uncle, and become his seventh wife! Instantly Kyra is rebellious and obstinate. Not only does she not want to marry an old man, she doesn’t even like her uncle. The Prophet, however, has spoken. He says that God had decided who she will marry. She is to obey.
I’ve always been curious about polygamy– and not curious as in ‘I’d like to try it, just once’. Curious as in– what do these young girls tell themselves in order to make it okay for them to do what they’re told to do? To marry men too old for them, lay with them, bear their children, share their husbands with other women and not feel jealousy or anger or neglect? If this life is all you know, are you aware that it’s so very different?
Kyra is aware. And she can’t stand it. She wants no part of it. Added to this dilemma is her weekly sneak to the bookmobile. Kyra devours the written word of the world outside the gates of the Compound. There is an entire Universe out there, one she knows nothing of, where the girls dress funny, and commit the sin of allowing their bras to show and talking to boys, where the modesty of long dresses and braided hair are frowned upon, even deemed ‘weird’. It becomes painfully obvious to Kyra that there is more to life than living in a trailer on a dirt road, with 19 siblings and three mothers and a father she loves dearly, but who wouldn’t stand up to the Prophet and his brother if his life depended on it. His life does, indeed depend on it. Refusal to marry her uncle Hiram could mean trouble for her entire family.
No, Kyra must fend for herself, and soon. The wedding date draws near.
The final chapter in this book makes it difficult to breathe. I found myself flipping pages as fast as they would go, trying to keep up with Kyra, Patrick (the driver of the bookmobile, who befriends Kyra and offers her a way out), Joshua (the boy she is not allowed to love), and the family.
I didn’t realize until I had finished reading this book that it was a young adult selection. I’m in my 30’s, so either this book was pretty darn good, or I am easily entertained. Or both.:)
The Chosen One is a fast read, but an exciting one, full of twists and ‘secrets’ of life in what is considered outside of the walls of the compound to be a cult– beatings, murders, ex-communications, fear, isolation. But there is also love, and family and hope and dreams– and the risk of losing all of them in search of freedom.
There is a section at the end, where I thought things could have been fleshed out more. It seems to end rather abruptly, with more than a few unanswered questions. Overall, I enjoyed it. Really quick read, great storyline.