The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams is a book that I have been wanting to get my greedy hands on as soon as I saw the first review for it. Why? Well, I’ll tell you why.
One. It’s YA. I love YA. Need I say more?
Two. It’s about polygamy. Hello? Me? I seem to love to pick up all the books about polygamy. For some odd strange reason, I love them all.
Three. Carol Lynch Williams lives right here in Salt Lake City. I love to read my local authors. Why am I SO lucky to live in the same valley as Shannon Hale, Sara Zarr, Brandon Mull, James Dashner, Brandon Sanderson, Ann Dee Ellis, Emily Wing Smith, A.E. Cannon, J. Scott Savage, Richard Paul Evans and – wait, I could go on forever, I’ve got to stop with the names somewhere. I told you, I’m very lucky.
Four. That cover. Just look at that cover.
Five. The buzz. The hype. Oh my goodness, it’s getting a lot of it. I’m one of those people that if the book sounds like its one I’d enjoy anyways then the hype really does get to me. I want to read it more!
As soon as The Chosen One arrived I had the boys down for their naps within the hour and settled myself on the couch. When my husband came from work and I squealed that I finally got the book, he asked when I would be reading it. But by then I was already done! I read it in just one sitting. And I’m pleased to say that The Chosen One lived up to all of the hype. I had high expectations for the book and I was not disappointed.
The Chosen One will make you sad, it will make you furious, if you are a crier you will cry, and if you are easily angered it will also make you want to bash somebody’s head in. Even with all of that, read this book!
It is simply beautiful and courageous. And it is a book that you will not soon forget. It stays with you long after you have closed the last page.
But let’s begin with the first page, shall we? The first line,
“If I was going to kill the prophet,” I say, not even keeping my voice low, “I’d do it in Africa.”
What a fantastic first line. That first line says so much about the book. What prophet? If there is a prophet, there must be some type of community, followers, or group. And why does she want to kill him? Who is he? What has he done to her to warrant such an expression? And Africa? Well, that just sounds exotic. Especially, looking back on it because we later discover that Kyra has never even really left her small, closed community. Africa might as well be shooting for the moon.
Simply stated The Chosen One is about thirteen year old Kyra who has grown up in a isolated and closed polygamous community. Her loving father whom she adores has three wives and she has twenty brothers and sisters, not including the two that are on the way.
Kyra is relatively happy, believes in her faith but is not without her curiosities. One of her biggest kept secrets is the Ironton County Mobile Library on Wheels that makes a stop especially for her just down the road. Hidden up in a tree she escapes into the world of The Bridge of Terabithia and Harry Potter. The prophet made them burn all their books years earlier, stating that books like Dr. Suess’s Hop on Pop and Fox in Socks are the devils words and would get them sent straight to hell.
Her other secret is Joshua, also in the community, whom she secretly meets during the night. They aren’t supposed to be friends. They have no right to choose each other. Never are they to have relationships before marriage and when that time comes only the prophet himself can choose whom they will marry. But being with him makes her feel so good. How can it be so bad?
Kyra is holding these secrets when the Prophet announces that she has been chosen to marry. At the age of thirteen she is expected to marry her SIXTY-THREE year old UNCLE! Her parents don’t like it either but have no power to change it and go forth with making the wedding plans. As the wedding day looms closer and Joshua runs away, Kyra is stuck. Does she abandon the family that she loves and the only way of life that she knows or does she submit to her families and the prophets will and live a life of ugliness, violence, and greed?
I’ve read a fair amount of books about polygamy and it never ceases to amaze me what goes on in these closed communities. On the surface, it appears to be about the true happiness of families and their unwavering faith in their God. But underneath it’s dark and ugly. The violence against women and their expectations to “keep sweet” is infuriating.
The Chosen One is simply riveting. The more I think about it, the more I like it. You won’t be able to put it down.
I was able to meet Carol Lynch Williams and hear her do a reading at the Provo Children’s Book Festival a couple of weeks ago (my post about LAST years festival) The following video is one of the most gut wrenching passages in the book and it was a pleasure to hear Carol read it. I apologize for some of the cuts, my camera only videos for three minutes at a time which didn’t make it fun when it cut at the important parts.
Carol was very gracious and I was excited to be able to meet her. Even my little boy got into the action.
Don’t we look so nice and snuggly?!
If you’d like to enter to win a signed copy of The Chosen One you will receive one entry by answering this question (no answer, no entry): do you think that polygamy should be legal? Why or why not? If you think hard about it, it’s not as easy as an answer as you might think.
An additional entry each if you subscribe either by RSS or email to this blog, tweet this giveaway post, post about the giveaway on your blog, or stumble this post. Five additional entries if you are already subscribed to my blog. My way of saying thank you. Open worldwide and I’ll close the giveaway on Monday, June 1st.
Links of interest: Cynsations interview with Carol and Becky’s interview with Carol.
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, polygamy.
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin. May 12, 2009.
Hardcover, 224 pages. ISBN 0312555113
The Chosen One is available from your local independent bookstore, Powell’s, Barnes and Noble, and Amazon.