I have had a mini-facination with pologymst cults and I thought it was very interesting that there was a young adult novel written about it. I read these stories and am amazed time and time again by how strong these women have to be to leave their families, their religion, their entire lives, to start out with nothing. This story was very similar to the autobiographical stories that I have read, and if possible, it was every bit as heartwrenching. Kyra, is an almost 13 year old, living with her father and her mother (father's third wife) and an large assortment of brothers and sisters. She has recently begun a 'secret' flirtation with a boy on the compound who has told Kyra that he wants to 'chose' her to be his wife, his only wife. The two have heard stories, and seen what happens to those who don't follow 'God's' rules...really the so called Prophet's rules. Kyra's other 'sin'? She secretly meets Patrick, the mobile library driver each week to sneak a book to read. Then one day the prophet comes to vist, something he hasn't ever done before, and announces to the family that he has had a vision from God. God's revelation has told him that Kyra is to be married to Brother Hyram. Brother Hyram happens to be Kyra's sixty year old uncle. Kyra is to be Hyram's seventh wife. Aghast, Kyra vows not to let this happen. Unfortunately the Chosen Ones will stop at nothing to make sure the marriage goes through. In the past, they haven't been above murder to make sure things go their way. What happens to Kyra and those who love her is heartbreaking. Carol Lynch Williams does a standout job of making Kyra's family empathetic...it is clear Kyra's father and all three of his wives care deeply for her. They take some risks for her, but they never quite go far enough. This also rang painfully realistic to me. The story is sad, I am a bleeding heart and I did tear up several times. I read this book in a short couple of hours. I am passing this book on to my 13 year old stepdaughter in hopes that she will take to heart Kyra's strength. A must read for both adults and teens.
The story The Chosen One, by Carol Lynch Williams was inspired by a true story told by a girl who escaped from a Polygamist compound. While this book is a work of fiction I fear the story itself rings true to much of what goes on in this type of cult.
In this story thirteen year old Kyra has one father, three mothers and some twenty brothers and sisters with two more on the way. Books are banned in the remote compound where she lives, as books are said to be the work of Satan. Kyra sneaks off to the Mobile Library on wheels where she learns she can borrow books. She only takes (1) book to start so that she will be able to hide it from everyone. Kyra also has been sneaking off to meet Joshua a boy she has come to adore, and the two are planning for a future together despite the risk of meeting in secret. One day everything changes.
Kyra and her family learn that the "Prophet" will be visiting. Everyone suspects that this means her father will be chosen as an Apostle, but that is not what happens. The Prophet tells them he has had a vision and that Kyra has been chosen to be the "seventh" wife of her 60 year old uncle in just four weeks!
Does Kyra try to run off with the boy she loves, even though she may never see her family again? What happens to her and her family if she gets caught?
This story brings up important moral questions that we seem to be hearing about more and more. It seems to me that this one would make an excellent book for classroom discussion at the high school level as the story contains various important themes: personal freedom, religious cults, and societies norms.
The Chosen One was an excellent audio book that I enjoyed a lot. I did find the ending a bit disappointing but I would still recommend this book for both young adults and adults alike.
From the back of the box:
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 Ironton County 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.
When I received this box in the mail with the five CDs inside, I thought if nothing else, it would help pass some windshield time, while I was behind the wheel in traffic. However, as the story of Kyra, the little girl growing up in a polygamist family unfolded, I found myself more and more interested in finding out what would happen next.
This is a story written for young adults, but I enjoyed it as a not-so-young adult and plan to pass it on to a few younger people that I know. When the story was finished, I found myself wanting to know more, wanting the story to continue, and I just sat there in my car, in my driveway, listening to the dead silence of the completed CD. Then an interview started between the author, Carol Lynch Williams and Dr. Michael Tunnell. I listened to the whole interview there in my driveway, which I found very interesting as well.
There are probably going to be a number of parents and teachers who think that the subject matters presented in this book are too mature for young adults. I happen to disagree with these parents and agree with the author, Carol Lynch Williams, when she said in her interview that we "shouldn't pull any punches with older kids." They happen to be a lot smarter than we think, anyway. Also, there is no better way to get a kid to read than to give them material to read that covers things, ideas, places, and characters that are new, exciting, scary, and contain places that they've never seen or heard of, or like in this case...lifestyles that are so odd, controversial, and precarious. Isn't that what we adults like to read, too?
To make the whole story even better...this audio version is read by Jenna Lamia, who does an excellent job; I mean she gets Kyra's voice and personality spot on!
Highly recommended as a young adult novel.
on July 22, 2013
I felt very strongly for Kyra. Although she had a loving family, who seemed a lot closer than a lot of families in polygamy fiction--her father was loving and her mothers got along--she was living in an intolerable situation. 13 and being forced to marry her father's abusive brother, not the boy she has loved forever, she seeks comfort in her books, brought to her by the bookmobile, whose driver, Patrick, befriends her and comes in secret. Kyra sees her world begin to fall apart and has to fight to try to get away.
The story moves slowly at first, but the climax is fast-paced, and makes the reader yearn for a sequel. And it did make me ask questions of faith; would I ever allow myself to do things like this in the name of faith? How would I feel if this were my life, and I had no options?
The story moved me in a way a lot of books don't, and I think it's good for an adult to read, but I would strongly advise parents to read this book before letting teenagers read it. There is a horrific scene of child abuse, cloaked as discipline, where a baby is ducked under water because she dared to cry; I have a daughter just a little older than the baby and it made me break out in tears and I had to put the book down for the night. It bothered me. I know these things happen, but it hurt me to read it. I would make sure my child were able to handle things like this before letting her read it, and we would follow with a discussion about it.
on June 2, 2009
This first person narrative chronicles the experiences of Kyra, a not-quite 14 year old girl as she faces her future in a polygamist cult. As the version I received in an audio book, I want to mention that Jenna Lamia, who read this book, is very believable as Kyra and has a rich narrating style. This is strong subject mature for a YA audience; however there is very little mention of intimate relationships beyond kissing between same age individuals and mentions of having to have babies with older men. Uncomfortable to think about, but nothing worse than what has been in the news.
Williams must be applauded for her character development. No one in this book is flat - literally everyone has depth, even if they are only briefly mentioned. Her ability to integrate the back-story of the prophets and the families adds to the dimensions of this story, increasing its believability. Kyra is a painfully strong character, pushing beyond the bounds of "Chosen One" life - almost to the point of question. It is hard to believe that in the confines of her upbringing, she is afforded as many freedoms as she takes (long walks off the compound, unsupervised visits to the fellowship hall, free time where she is essentially hiding near her parents' homes). However, in this her character's choices are very believable and the book's pace is perfect, rich with suspense.
I do not want to give away too much; however Kyra's choice becomes 1) stay and marry her father's older brother or 2) run away towards sin and uncertainty. In her decision, her pain is palpable and the impact of her choices on her family are clear and painful. She is very real, and the reader/listener is torn along with her. The ending comes quickly - a little too quickly and feels rushed and raw. Additionally, the cavalier attitude of the compound's inhabitants towards murder feels untrue and unsettling. It seems that there should be some legal ramifications, but this is not touched in the book. Overall, the fact that there is no real resolution bothers me as an adult and would have enraged me as a young teenager - if there was any book that needed a epilogue, this is the one.
Bottom line: recommended for mature youth readers 13 and up or adults
on July 23, 2009
I found THE CHOSEN ONE to be very hard to read only because of the raw and ruthless way Kyra is treated. She does not want to marry her uncle but being in the world of polygomy, they try to force her to. When Kyra resists, she brings upon herself a violent reprisal.In harshly trying to get her to obey, they actually force her away from this world which to that point is all she every knew. This book which is written for young adults I felt was a little too much and should be closely checked out before allowing younger readers to read it. Although it is a fast read, it still is tough to take some of the more hurtful parts.
on January 4, 2014
Haunting. There is no other word I can think of to describe this book.
Williams writes this world so well, that I had goosebumps throughout most of the novel. She wrote Kyra's story so well and with such beautiful prose, it was able to take this book to a much more interesting place than I thought it would go. Kyra's love for her father, her mothers, her sisters and brothers is so apparent, it hurt me to read about the world they lived in.
I applaud Williams for writing this story the way she did. Even though the world Kyra lived in was horrible, I never questioned her desire to stay with her family. It was clear that she detested her world, but even through that, she loved her family and it was incredibly touching to see how much her need to leave hurt her when it came to her family.
I also loved the dynamic Williams created between The Chosen One's culture are Kyra's family. Even though her father has 3 wives and many kids, I couldn't help but admire the love they had for one another. Kyra's father was a much better character than I thought he would be at the beginning of the book. Comparing that to the rest of the compound, where children are killed for being "defective," where young girls are forced into marriage with much older men, and where near torture is used as a simple form of discipline. The two words almost seem to oppose each other in ways, and yet they are so intertwined you can't forget it.
Finding an emotion tie to this book was easy and getting sucked in will happen. But this book isn't for everyone. It's a very tough story to read and it will make you angry, sad and everything in between. But it will also show you the power of human spirit and what it can overcome. If you can look past the religious context and embrace the story as a show of human strength, you will be moved by this book, just like I was.
on May 11, 2014
This novel cannot be put down after you start. Kyra is only fourteen and is about to be forced into a marriage with her elderly uncle. How she deals with her dilemma makes a fascinating story full of drama!
on March 3, 2016
I was riveted from page one. The author's style of writing kept me on the edge of my seat throughout the entire story. The story is haunting and terrifying and beautiful all at once, because despite the horrors Kyra faces, there is joy and love in her life... so much so that your heart breaks a little, even as you're unquestionably relieved at her freedom.
When I opened this first person account by a thirteen year old named Kyra, I didn't think much was wrong with her rather constrained life. Then I realized it was set in present day America, not a century ago!
Kyra is one of The Chosen Ones, a group run by a mysterious Prophet and his Apostles. At thirteen, Kyra is the eldest daughter of a polygamist with three wives and a twenty children, aged from seventeen to eight months. She longs to leave the hot, dusty and hopeless compound where she and her family are living but she can find no way to get out. The compound is in the desert, far from town, and the only contact Kyra has with the outside world is when she sneaks off to the Mobile Library on Wheels, where she reads books. Books bring her to a world outside the Compound, and make her long for a place where she can live and think for herself.
One evening, The Prophet and some of the Apostles come to visit the squalid trailers reserved for those families who aren't them. This time, they have come to visit Kyra and her family, a visit they seem to dread. Kyra's father, Richard has hopes that he will finally be chosen as an Apostle, an honor which seems to have been denied him for a long time. His wives pray that this will be so, because they would be allowed to live in a house instead of trailers, and perhaps Kyra's mother would survive her current pregnancy.
But the news could not be less welcome: thirteen year old Kyra has been "chosen" to be the seventh wife of her uncle, Hyrum, who is at least sixty. She wants to refuse, to run away, to be with Joshua, a boy upon whom she has a crush. But Women and children are less than nothing to The Chosen Ones, as they exist only to serve men. The tiniest resistance is met with terrible physical punishment and death is a common enough punishment that no one even thinks much about it any more. Even infants are not spared, we find out, when eight month old Mariah is nearly drowned for the crime of crying.
I won't go any further because I don't want to spoil the book, but I found it an amazing, gripping little tale. It's a slim book and a fast read, as the evil emanating from the Chosen Ones compound seems to surround and smother Kyra and her family, like the smoke from a nearby forest fire. She is thwarted at each turn by men who have dealt with reluctant teenaged brides before. But with each passing horror, she becomes more and more determined to escape, and not submit to her elderly uncle, a man who has rather fast hands for an Apostle. Her uncle, The Prophet, the God Squad, and the other Apostles are just as determined that Kyra will submit, and be the epitome of the obedient child bride.
Although the book is considered fiction, it could be plucked from the headlines. The beatings, the forced modesty, the killing of babies, the "disappearance" of young men, and the marriage of young girls to old men all have been reported recently as the press takes a close look at some of the radical forms of worship that take place in Texas, Utah or other secluded corners of the Western U.S. The Chosen One is not only a very good read, it's an important book, and would be devoured by young women, from early teens through early twenties. Even an old lady like me was unable to put down the book until I learned what finally happened to Kyra!