Bibliographic information: The Chosen One. Carol Lynch Williams. St. Martin’s Griffin, 2009. $16.95. 213p. ISBN-13: 9780312555115.
Summary: Kyra is a 13-year-old girl who lives in a polygamist community, she has three mothers, one is her biological mother and the other two are considered sister mothers, they are her father’s other wives. Among the three mothers they have produced 20 brothers and sisters for Kyra. Kyra loves her family very much, and is one of the few things holding her back from leaving. Joshua, a friend from another family, has taken an interest in Kyra, who in turn starts to like Joshua. However, the Prophet, who views himself as the son of God, has “seen” Kyra and her Uncle Hyrum getting married, and so they shall. Kyra does not wish to marry her 60-year-old uncle who already has six wives. Joshua says he will marry her instead, but he is kicked out of the community and left to fend for himself out in the desert. Kyra discovers a bookmobile, owned by Patrick, that drives by the community and has taken to reading forbidden books to help her cope and gain a little enjoyment out of life. Finally fed up with her situation Patrick attempts to help Kyra escape the community and her fate of marrying her much older uncle. There escape fails, Kyra is sent back to the community to be punished and Patrick goes missing. In the night Kyra is finally able to escape and is helped by the local authorities from the nearby town.
Reading level and interest level: RL: 12 and up IL: grade 7 and up
Review: Written through the first person viewpoint of Kyra, the protagonist, this book tells a story that of a little girl’s life in a polygamist community. We get to see her life in the present with occasional flashbacks into her past to help support her story and give the reader an understanding of why she feels she needs to leave the community. Williams wonderfully expresses her characters so that they feel real enough to be your friend. Unlike a lot of books on cults Williams paints a picture that portrays many aspects of the cult community, rather than stating it is bad. A lot of research went into creating this title. A great read that will leave you wanting more.
Readers’ annotation: Forced to marry her 60-year-old uncle, Kyra has decided it is time to try to escape her community. With the help of the trusty Bookmobile, will she make it?
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: Williams does a great job of highlighting Kyra’s feelings and portraying her character so that you can feel what she is going through. This helps the reader to understand that they are not alone in their problems and that there are out there facing the same issues. Having somebody else tell their story will bring light and encourage others to tell their stories. Also, teens in an analogous situation would be able to relate to Kyra’s situation and not feel so isolated. They will understand that other teens are living with the same harsh conditions and this might encourage them to speak out about their own situation and seek help.
Issues present: This title lends insight into the many aspects that can be found in polygamist communities. A lot of the time you will hear only about the bad that comes with being in such a community, but they are not always just bad. A lot of the time they have a fear of leaving, they don’t want to leave their families that they love, they feel guilt over sinning, and they have a wish to belong. We all have one or more of these feelings in any place of living. This could lead to a great discussion on tolerance and different lifestyles. This book provides the reader background to a difference in opinion when it comes to religious views. Not everybody practices the same beliefs and it is important to understand that there are many religious views out there, even if some may be more extreme than others.
Booktalk ideas: Introduce Kyra’s character.
Pg. 1 the first line. Really catches the reader’s attention.
Pg. 26 second section, the full one – describes the marriage situations.
Genre or subject: Realistic fiction: religion, polygamy, manipulation
Readalikes: Wither, Sister Wife, Keep Sweet, The Rag and Bone Shop
Author’s website: http://www.carollynchwilliams.com/
Awards: An ALA/YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers (2010), Pennsylvania Young Readers’ Choice Award Nominee (2011), TAYSHAS High School Reading List (2010), Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Young Adult Fiction (2009), Milwaukee County Teen Book Award Nominee (2010) Abraham Lincoln Award Nominee (2013)
Reviews: School Library Journal: http://bookverdict.com/details.xqy?uri=Product-12652824.xml; Publisher’s Weekly: http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-312-55511-5; Kirkus Reviews: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/carol-lynch-williams/the-chosen-one-3/
Why I chose it: I have never read a book about polygamy before and find the topic quite interesting so I thought I would give this book a go.