The Chosen One
by Carol Lynch Williams
Published May 12, 2009
Fiction, young adult
I’m rarely left speechless after reading a book, but this book left me speechless. The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams is about Kyra, a 13-year-old girl who lives on a compound run by one prophet. This prophet (or I should say “The Prophet” with finger quotes) controls everything about these followers’ lives, including having made them burn all their books, because books carry the word of Satan (in case you didn’t know).
Kyra has one dad, three moms, and 19 brothers and sisters. She’s a precocious 13 year old, wandering outside of the fenced-in compound. One day when she’s walking on the road outside of the compound, a mobile library drives past her and the driver nods in acknowledgement. Kyra becomes obsessed with finding out when the mobile library will drive by again, and despite her going to the same place every day that she first saw the mobile library, it’s not until a week later that the mobile library drives by again. Kyra nods back in acknowledgement, but the van keeps driving. The third time Kyra sees the van, the van stops and offers her a library card. Despite being able to check out four books at a time, she only takes one book that the librarian recommends because books are banned on the compound and one book is easier to hide than four.
Kyra’s been doing other things that she shouldn’t, like secretly meeting with one of the boys on the compound for the last year. If they were caught, the consequences would be severe.
When The Prophet comes to visit Kyra’s family, Kyra’s dad thinks he’ll finally be appointed as an apostle. Apostles get to live in actual houses on the compound, as opposed to the rickety trailers that the followers live in. Kyra’s uncle is an apostle, so the family is practically giddy with the news they think The Prophet is bringing.
The Prophet, though, isn’t bringing news for Kyra’s dad. Instead, he visits the family to tell them he saw in a vision that Kyra was to marry her uncle, one of the apostles.
Who’s 60 years old.
And already has six wives.
Did I mention this guy is her uncle?
I guess she’d not only be mother to her children, but auntie as well. Reminds me of that song, “I’m my own grandpa.”
And this is where the books gets mind-blowingly good. What should Kyra do? It’s not as easy as just escaping from the compound. If she leaves, her dad could have his family taken away from him. Is one person’s freedom worth ruining the lives of 20+ people? But is Kyra obligated to stay in a situation where she’ll be married to her uncle and miserable, just for the sake of not only staying with their family, but so that her actions don’t affect them?
This book brings up a great moral dilemma: If your happiness and personal freedom meant ruining the lives of 20+ people, is it worth it? What if you were on the other end, and it was your life that was going to be ruined if someone made a particular choice? Would you hope the person would sacrifice for the greater good?
The Chosen One was well written, though there was one part in the end that didn’t ring true for me, and this part is what kept this book from getting a perfect rating from me. Other than this one little itty bitty piece, Carol Lynch Williams is a great storyteller, ratcheting up the suspense until my heart was beating wildly as I watched the story unfold. You must read this book!
Rating: 98 out of 100
I’ve got a great contest for you! Thanks to St. Martin’s Press, I’ve got 10, TEN! copies of The Chosen One to give away. To be entered in the drawing, leave a comment telling me whether you think polygamy should be legalized (I blatantly stole this question from Maw Books, but it’s a great question!). If you don’t answer this question, you will be disqualified.
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Contest is only open to US and Canada, and the contest will end June 17th at midnight, PST. Good luck!
Becky’s Book Reviews (author interview)