The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams

chosen

From Good Reads:

Thirteen-year-old Kyra has grown up in an isolated polygamous community without questioning her father’s three wives and her twenty brothers and sisters. Or at least 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 the boy she hopes to choose for herself instead of having a man chosen for her. But when the Prophet decrees that Kyra must marry her 60-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.

I am fascinated by polygamist communities. (I originally wrote that I had a weird fascination with them but I get the idea that a lot of people feel this way, or at least a lot of my female friends do, so it’s not so weird. My guys friends are either somewhat fascinated or think polygamists are downright nuts for choosing the deal with more than one woman’s crazy at a time.) The author seems to have an LDS background as she went to BYU and has written other LDS related books, and I often wonder what people in the LDS faith think of FLDS-related polygamist communities. There isn’t really anything in this book to directly connect it to the FLDS religion, though. Yes, the leader of the group is called The Prophet, but I don’t think the LDS/FLDS have it trademarked or anything.

Kyra is an independent child. She loves books, which unfortunately were banned from her community several years ago, complete with a community book burning. (The over-privileged side of my brain reads things like this and is incredulous that anyone still lives like this, but I do know better and it makes me sad.) Kyra is able to sneak away and meet the bookmobile every week to get new books to read, which she then hides in a tree outside her home. She is becoming aware of life outside her community, but she has no desire to actually leave – she loves her family and hopes to marry her crush. When she learns that she’ll marry her uncle, Kyra still has no desire to leave. Her commitment to her family is very strong and remains a constant throughout the book, even to the end. I liked this about her.

The plot gets a bit slow in the middle – there is a lot of waiting around where Kyra is hoping that things will change. As you approach the end, though, it is very fast paced and you won’t want to put it down until the end. The ending is realistic as nothing is completely wrapped up in a happy way, but it does give you hope for Kyra’s future. And that maybe one day, when enough young people have suffered through similar situations, they will put a stop to communities like this.

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Filed under review, young adult lit

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