Author: Carol Lynch Williams
Genres: Young Adult Realistic/Issues
Publisher: St Martin's Griffin
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.
The Chosen One is a heart-rending account of Kyra’s struggle. She loves her family very much—that’s obvious in her story. But like all teens, she is trying to find her own way between what she was taught as a child and what she truly believes.
This coming-of-age is complicated by the fact that Kyra is part of a religious sect where women and children are controlled by the iron fists of the men around them. Kyra’s life hits a turning point when she realizes she is going to be forced to marry her 70 year old uncle.
Written in first person, present tense, this story is intense. It pulled me into it immediately and wouldn’t let go. The voice is strong, the writing absolutely wonderful. The characterization is clear and brilliant and completely believable.
I’ve read some reviews that say it’s not believable, but I’ve personally spoken with women who grew up in similar situations, and who describe many of the same brutal and demoralizing experiences.
While not suitable for younger readers, due to some brutal violence, I think mature sixteen-year-olds and above will be able to handle it and will draw from it strength and hope in facing their own life challenges.
This book was a well-deserved Whitney Award winner of 2009 Best Youth Fiction. In my opinion, it’s Newbery material.