Sunday, 28 November 2010

Review: The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams

The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams

Genre: Contemporary > Polygamists Society
Age Group: 13+ YA/MG
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release Date: 1st December 2010
Format: Paperback, 224 pages
ISBN-13: 9781847389381
RRP: $16.99 AUD
Many thanks to Simon and Schuster for providing this book in exchange for my honest review.
Cover love? 
It's gorgeous and a little sad, Kyra's hair symbolising her innocence being undone.

Thirteen-year-old Kyra has grown up in an isolated community without questioning the fact that her father has three wives and she has twenty brothers and sisters. That is, 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 Joshua, the boy she hopes to choose for herself instead of having a man chosen for her. But when the Prophet decrees that she must marry her sixty-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 forever.

The Chosen One is a dark but truthful story of a girl called Kyra, whose community forces her to become the seventh wife of her 60 year old uncle. It’s not a dystopian or historical novel; it’s a story set in our own time, reflective of the lives of people living in polygamist communities such as these.

Kyra father has three wives, and she has over twenty siblings. They live in trailers on a piece of fenced-in land owned by the Chosen Ones. She doesn’t have the opportunity to go to school, and must help take care of the younger children in her family. But Kyra has secrets. She borrows books from the Ironton County Mobile Library on Wheels, she despises and curses the dictatorial Prophet Childs in her head, and above all, she’s fallen in love with Joshua Johnson, who is absolutely forbidden to her.

Carol Lynch Williams’ writing is simple and fluid, bringing Kyra’s voice to life, allowing me to be completely immersed in her world. The Chosen One puts the lives of polygamist communities into perspective, and through this book, I’ve gained a greater understanding and sympathy of these “cults”. 

I’ll give you a warning now: the book is not a happy one. It’s sad and a little dark, without the classical happy resolution in most books. Through Kyra, I saw how unfair the society was, I was outraged at the tyrannical force with which Prophet Childs and his Apostles ruled the community, and I was disgusted at what the Prophet forced the girls to do.

And while I didn’t feel satisfied by the poignant ending, I thought it was the right place to finish this chapter of Kyra’s life. Like real life, we don’t know what comes next, salvation does not reach everyone, and there isn’t always a fairy-tale ending. But I don’t think this book could have been ended any other way while still retaining its effect.

Through the eyes of a girl who fights her way to freedom, The Chosen One is story that climbs over the barbed fence and opens our eyes to the truth behind victims of cults. It's beautiful and heartbreaking, definitely a must-read.