Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams


Williams, Carol Lynch. The Chosen One. New York: St. Martin's Griffin, 2009.


This is a nail biting, heartbreaking story of a 13 year old girl named Kyra. She is growing up in a polygamist community or compound. She lives with her father, three mothers and nineteen brothers and sisters with two more on the way. She loves her family and is trying to live their way of life. She feels like she is evil because she sneaks out at night to meet with Joshua the boy she dreams of spending the rest of her life with. Kyra has another secret that she loves to read books in her Russian Olive tree that her community has banned because they are words of Satan. She sneaks away to the Ironton County Mobile Library on wheels where she meets Patrick who gives her books to read. Prophet Childs comes to their home one evening to announce that he has had a vision and Kyra must marry her sixty year old mean uncle. Kyra begs her family to not make her do this, but everyone is convinced that the Prophet is holy and his word must be obeyed. He also has a God squad that beats Joshua and Kyra when they find out they want to marry. Kyra finally gets the courage to tell Patrick and he trys to help her escape, but they are caught and it appears the God squad has murdered Patrick. Kyra finally gathers the courage to escape on her own using the bookmobile and dialing 911 for police help. She is in a safe house at the end and the reader hopes she can stay there.

Critical Analysis:

This book is unique because Kyra is born into the problem. Her family practices polygamy and it is the only way of life she knows. The problem emerges when she is thirteen years old and she is chosen to marry her sixty year old, mean uncle. This story does give the reader insight into life on a polygamist compound. The setting definitely enhances the story because the character Kyra is watched and feels trapped in her setting. The compound is in the desert and there is a chain link fence to keep the families in and others out. When she ventures out for the day with her mothers to buy material everyone in the "real" world just stares at them. They do not fit in. The plot becomes so strong and interesting. Joshua and Patrick try to help her and we are left to wonder if the God Squad has killed them both. Nothing is predictable.The reader is kept on the edge of their seat and cannot stop turning pages to see how the story ends. Kyra is a believable character that comes alive in the book. The reader knows exactly how she feels and what she is thinking. The theme is worthwhile. The reader is left to think about what this type of life is really like and you have an understanding why the women do not try to leave their lifestyle. Carol Lynch Williams easily carries you along Kyra's journey. The reader is left with insight in this society. This novel would appeal to many different groups of readers.

Strengths and Weaknesses:
This book has a strong problem that will keep you riveted until the end. The words flow easily to understand how Kyra feels and what she is thinking. A young adult reader would have a great discussion about this book.


Gregory Maguire states "The Chosen One makes the heart race, the teeth grind, and the brow bead up in sweat."

Meg Cabot states "A powerful and heartbreaking novel of love and hope. One girl's poignant journey as she struggles to find herself and, ultimately, the Truth."

David Ebershoff says this story is"powerful and unforgettable...will break you heart."

An Na says this is "truly thought-provoking, heartfelt, and just a plain old good read."

Sara Zarr states "unsettling and courageous...beautiful, compassionate, and full of hope."

Michael Cart a past president of the Young Adult Library Services Association says "it is an important book."

Kyra's life  revealing that moment in childhood when you recognize your thoughts as your own and discover forces in the world that your parents cannot — or will not — protect you from." --The New York Times Book Review (Editor’s Choice)
"Intensely gripping and grippingly intense"- Kirkus Reviews

“…this is a heart pounder, and readers will be held, especially as the danger escalates. Williams’ portrayals of the family are sharp, but what’s most interesting about this book is how the yearnings and fears of a character so far from what most YAs know will still seem familiar and close.” --Booklist

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