|The Chosen One
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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, with two more on the way. 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.
This book was absolutely chilling. It had stark descriptions of child abuse and what life might be like in a cult. That being said, I couldn't put it down! It is incredibly suspenseful and I was unable to stop reading it to catch up on the latest news or watch my favorite tv shows. I had to find out what happened to Kyra. You will find yourself boiling with righteous indignation and cheering Kyra along as she sneaks books from the mobile library. Well worth the read. Two thumbs up....more info
- Stirring novel of the power of choice
This excellent novel of silent rebellion and the power of choice follows 13-year old Kyra, a young girl living in a polygamist cult that is growing ever more hostile to the outside world. Kyra is a silent rebel- her trips to the mobile library have opened her eyes to a world outside, and her secret meetings with a teenaged boy on the compound threaten the power structure of the cult. After the prophet declares that God has chosen Kyra to become her 60 year-old uncle's sixth bride, Kyra is faced with an unspeakable choice between her family and her freedom.
This thought-provoking novel is a must-read for anyone interested in the concept of free will or in the inner lives of girls in polygamist cults. The novel presents all sorts of choices that people make in order to benefit or protect themselves and their family. As Kyra's family fails to protect her, she is forced to make the difficult decisions for herself. This book is violent in parts, but not unrealistically so, and faces head on the issues of immature child brides.
Highly recommended....more info
- A life of imprisonment or leave the only family and life you've known?
This young adult book was terribly poignant. 13 year-old Kyra is "the chosen one", slated to marry an old man who she has been 'saved for' on the polygamist compound where she has been raised by her father and three mothers along with a multitude of siblings.
Written in the first person from Kyra's naive point of view, I agonized with her as she tried to find a way out of what seemed to be her only fate.
Very apropos with recent events in the media surrounding polygamist sects, this book quite clearly shows how isolationist cults can exploit it's members, especially the youth.
While this is a young adult book, I enjoyed it- took me about a half a day to read. Some of the content may be a little heavy-duty for younger readers. The really touching aspect of this book for me was following Kyra's transformation from her child-like loyalty to her family and sheltered surroundings to making a very difficult decision and showing herself to be a strong young woman.
This was a book I couldn't put down once I started reading and I would highly recommend it....more info
- interesting subject matter, decent writing style, but overall just "ok"
The Chosen One is a story about 13 year old Kyra who is being raised in a polygamist community by her Father, 3 mothers, and multiple sibilings. While she loves her family deeply, she can't help but feel like she doesn't fit in. Kyra wants more out of life than just to be someone's wife. Then, as if it weren't enough of a struggle just to find her place in her society, Kyra is dealt a devastating blow - she has been chosen to marry one of the village Apostles - a man who is 50 years her senior and her Uncle! If she goes through with the marriage, she will sacrifice all that is important to her. If she doesn't go through with the marriage, she will bring the punishment of the elders on to her entire family. So, what's a 13 year old to do?
Here is what I really liked about the story:
I liked that Kyra's father seems like basically a good guy. I've read a few books about polygamist families, and they all start out with an ogre of a father figure. Kyra was close to all 3 of her mothers, the mothers seemed to basically get along, and she was pretty close with her siblings as well. Obviously, the story wasn't completely rosy - and there were descriptions of arguments, jealousy, and conflicts that you'd expect.
I liked that Kyra learned to make her own decisions and stand up for herself (while her thought process seemed advanced for her 13 years, I was willing to stretch the imagination for the sake of the story).
What I didn't like:
I wanted the author to do more with Krya's love of reading. From the book description, the fact that Kyra sneaks out to the book mobile seemed like it would be integral to the story line. But I was left feeling like that went nowhere. I wanted her to learn something in the stories she read that somehow helped her to save her self or her family, or outsmart the Prophet, or I don't know... something. But the way it was written, you could have substituted "ice cream truck" for "book mobile" and the story would have ended the same way.
I also wanted more closure in the ending that gave insight into what happened next. Not that it necessarily needed to be a fairytale ending with Kyra reunited with others who had left the camp, but it would have been nice to wrap things up a little neater.
Overall, I thought the character development was done well. Not sure what kind of insight the author has into polygamous cults, but she seemed to know her subject matter well and brought a nice perspective to the stereotype. It was a quick read, but left me kind of blah. Instead of this story, I'd recommend Escape, which is a more detailed, non fiction story on a similar subject matter....more info
- Excellent book!
Thirteen-year-old Kyra lives in an isolated polygamist community with her 3 mothers and 20 brothers and sisters. The Prophet has forbidden reading but she sneaks out to the bookmobile every week to get books. That's about the extent of her rebellion until the Prophet decrees she must marry her uncle, a mean man 50 years older than her. When she refuses she is beaten and punished and her family is threatened forcing her to make a desperate choice with horrifying consequences.
This book was well-written and totally engrossing. I highly recommend this to teens and adults....more info
- to ultimately become the saved one
While this is presented as a young adult novel, I wonder how many adult readers will select and review this book. Polygamist communities have intrigued, captivated imagination and instilled fear and repulsion.
Readers have referenced a recent raid on such a community. Ultimately children were returned and their lives went on, certainly with more scrutiny.
If one is to take this novel as based on fact, it reveals itself as a horrific tale of young women, enslaved to a male leadership, that is most definitely crazed in their belief and right to dictate, punish and use God as the major weapon of intimidation.
While Kyra ultimately frees herself of Uncle Hyrum and the Chosen Ones, her love for and caring for her family will forever be a most heartwrenching future of reflection.
Most of us become who we are based on our childhood experiences. Often we have to rise above the failures and sadness to become our best selves.
Children like Kyra are in a most unique and difficult quandry. While raised to respect, work hard, behave morally, value home, God and family, these children of God are pawns of leaders who mask a most evil influence and instill terror.
More should be written and documented on these cults, groups, families, whatever they wish to label themselves. More should be done to protect those innocents....more info
- Wow. Tragic, Triumphant and Probably... True
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!...more info
- Very engrossing but does contain mature subject matter
It's been a long time since I last read a book as compelling as The Chosen One. The book reminded me a lot of The Rapture of Canaan by Sheri Reynolds in that the protagonist is a young girl living in a sort of "cult" which to her seems normal until strange things begin to happen that force her to take drastic action. Things such as the "Sins of the flesh"- wanting to be with a boy/man of her choosing rather then being selected to be yet another wife of a man in her compound, or even dealing with outside temptations like wanting to read so badly she is forced to sneak off and meet the man of the The Mobile Library and hide her books because "it is a sin for women to want to read."
I felt so bad for Kyra when she found out that she was going to be forced to marry her cruel uncle (who is 50 years her senior) and cheered her on when she secretly met up with the boy of her choice. Then, one day, he and a few of his friends escape from the compound and Kyra is faced with a choice: Leave with them and try to get away from the compound? Or live a sort of half-life like her father's wives and be unhappy she did not pursue her heart's desire?
This is an incredibly heart-wrenching and absorbing story. As soon as I finished it, I went and researched the subject matter and found out that this is no contemporary fiction made entirely up in the author's mind: it is based on a true polygamous compound found in Texas as reported in the news some years back.
Startling in its honesty and pulse-pounding in its conclusion, this is a story that will stay with me forever. I wish I could find out what happens to Kyra; perhaps in a second book?...more info
- Captivating, suspenseful story studded with complex characters
This book captivated me from its first sentence to its last. Kyra is a very likable and highly sympathetic character, and her story is extremely suspenseful. There is enough tragedy peppered throughout the story that you know in the reading this is not one of those books where everyone gets a happy ending. You can only hope that Kyra will. I will not say too much about the dynamics of her relationships with her family, friends, community, but they are complex and believable. The heart goes out to some who are well-intentioned and loving but ineffective at protecting themselves or others. The villains may not be on screen enough to become fully three-dimensional, but the heroes--and victims--certainly are. There is not a stock character among them.
Caveat to parents consider this: the book is by no means explicit in its handling of some very mature subjects (like barely teenaged brides), but its subjects are very mature. There is a very ugly underbelly to Kyra's story, and if the story doesn't dwell on it, it doesn't pretend it's not there.
I recommend. ...more info
- dark and disturbing tale about polygamy
In this riveting novel, Carol Lynch Williams captures perfectly the voice of Kyra, a thirteen year old who has grown up on a polygamous compound, mostly being "obedient" to the Prophet and the elders of the small community. Kyra clearly has a mind of her own, however, and sneaks away to meet 16-year old Joshua for quick kisses at night and secretly meets the local bookmobile to check out books, all of which are forbidden to members of this cult except the Bible. When Kyra is "chosen" by her 60-year old uncle to be his 7th wife, she refuses to comply, with terrible consequences for herself and her loved ones. This story is compelling for young and old readers alike, and the listener cannot help but be moved by Kyra's dilemma--if she leaves the compound, she may never see her beloved family again. The narration by Jenna Lamia is excellent, and she does a great job of building the suspense of the story and differentiating the voices of the different characters.
Highly recommended for readers 13 and up. ...more info
- Growing up in America
Thirteen year old Kyra is going through the usual teenage stages, she loves her family, most of the time anyway, but longs for a place to be alone from time to time. She is adored by her parents, and trusts them completely to take care of her. What she has problems with are the new rules that have been imposed on Kyra and the rest of the Chosen Ones, the polygamous sect that Kyra, her father, three mothers, nineteen (soon to be twenty-one) siblings and the other other families in the isolated compound.
Kyra has happy memories of her mother reading to her and her sister but a few years ago their beloved Prophet had died, passing the leadership of their community to one of his sons. The new prophet had begun to change the rules, increasingly isolating the Chosen Ones from the outside world, newspapers and magazines were forbidden, families were ordered to burn all their books other than the Bible. Young girls had always been married in their early teens but instead of being married to younger men and by mutual consent now the revelations given to the Prophet were revealing that the girls were to be given to the older men who made up the ruling body of the group. Teenage boys were increasing finding that they were no longer welcome in the community and disappearing. All of this was disturbing but when the Prophet announced that Kyra was to be married to her father's older brother Kyra's world began to crumble. The only thing that she had to cling to was that once a week she could escape by visiting the bookmobile to select a forbidden book and talk with her friend Patrick.
How Kyra solves her problems, and the dangers and pains that she faces to do this make for exciting reading. The story brings life to the headlines about the polygamous sects that have been in the news recently and presents them in a manner that although it is written for a young adult audience is also appealing to the not so young adult one as well. ...more info
- Well written, powerful and disturbing
This is one of those books that I finish and wonder how I am going to review it. The book was a relatively easy and breezy read, as far as the writing style and the length of the book. The subject matter was quite heavy, however, and parts of it were very disturbing.
I am also disturbed by the book's depiction of these people, who are quite evidently an LDS-type sect, and how accepting they are of things like murder and child abuse. I'm concerned with readers seeing an LDS-sect on TV and remembering the stories in this book, and having a negative bias towards the people under the assumption that these stories are based on truth. I don't know whether there was any real basis for some of the twists in the storyline of this book, but I do tend to stop and question things. I worry that teens, who this book is geared towards, may not approach it with the same skepticism.
That being said, the author did a good job at making the characters believable, and in making me care about Kyra. I felt her pain, and the pain of her family who loved her, but wanted to be good and faithful servants to their God and the prophet that guided them. I cheered on her rebelliousness and the surety of who she was and what she wanted. However I also felt despondency at the sect members' compliant natures that would stand by and allow their own children to be abused, and would defend the punishment and abuse of "disobedient" members, even the murder of innocents.
And I'm left frustrated with the ending of the book. Where's my happy ending? Doesn't the author know that all stories are supposed to have a happy ending with all the loose ends tied up in a pretty bow? (Are you listening Stephen King, who left me traumatized by the ending in Cujo? I read that book a good 25 years ago, and I've still never forgiven you for that one!) This book left me with so many questions, and a lot of frustration.
All in all, The Chosen One was a well-written book, but full of disturbing subject matter, and leaving me feeling emotionally heavy. I'm hesitant to recommend it for it's target group (teens), but think that it is worth a read by emotionally stable individuals who will approach it with a skeptical and realistic eye....more info
- A novel that deserves to win the Printz and National Book Award
This year I've read many great books. Books like If I Stay, Eternal, Wintergirls, Cracked Up to Be, North of Beautiful etc. For me, none of them even compared to The Chosen One.
From the first page of this great novel I knew that it would be my number one pick for this year...and probably my new favorite book. I read it in one sitting. I couldn't leave my room until I was finished.
There are so many real emotions that I felt while reading: anger, love, sadness...to name a few.
One of the reasons why I loved this book so much is because I know several polygamists, both practicing and those who have left the culture. This story was DEAD ON to what they have told me. I remember once one of my girlfriends told me that her father was trying to hook her up with a 40-year-old man she'd known since she was a baby. We were both only 15 at the time. It made me sick for days. But this is real and the book really shows that.
I think everyone, especially women and girls, should read The Chosen One. If women aren't going to stick up for each other, then who else will be there for them?
This book needs to be in every library, on every book shelf, and in every abuse center out there. And it does deserve to win the Printz and National Book Award this year!!
I can't get this book out of my mind!
- Raw and Brutally Honest
From page one it was evident that The Chosen One was going to be a raw and brutally honest book. It takes us to a world that many of us don't even think about let alone live in and pulls us in so far that there is no way we could not be invested in Kyra's well being. It takes out all the stops and by the end you need to take a seat and regroup.
The Chosen One isn't something that can be "enjoyed" exactly but it was so powerful and intense that I couldn't get enough. I admired Kyra's strength and her insistence on doing what was right for herself no matter the cost.
As others have said, I loved how much reading and the bookmobile played a part in the story. It illustrates just how much of an effect that reading can have on a person if only they will let it. I also really liked Kyra's pure and innocent relationship with Joshua, a young man from the compound.
All in all a very powerful book. Honestly I dare you not to be captivated by it....more info
- A bold, compelling story
"The Chosen One" is the bold, compelling story of 14 year old Kyra. Coming to terms with her upbringing in a 21st century polygamist community, she must decide whether to conform to her elder's demand to marry her 60 year old uncle or take a chance on life outside the compound. With masterful style, Williams crafts a brilliant novel, drawing readers deeply into the characters and their lifestyle. The story is bold-- a no-frills look into the tragedies of cult religion through the eyes of a smart young woman. Kyra represents a fabulous role model for young women. Both young readers and adults alike will be captivated by this beautiful and tragic, yet heartwarming story. A+...more info
- More than a Book
This novel has my favorite classic heroine... a young girl who uses reading to escape reality. In Kyra's reality, she is going to need more than a book to escape, however. She will need an entire bookmobile. Having not lived in a polygamist society, I cannot comment on the realism of this book. I do not know if it is an accurate portrayal, but I enjoyed the read. I think, what was most gripping, for me, was the family relationships in the story. How wrenching it must be, to want to be free of something like a cult when freedom may mean losing your family or making life very hard for the family you leave behind. ...more info
- Not as much like a made-for-TV movie as I expected...
A book about a girl being forced to marry her abusive 60 year-old uncle as part of a polygamist cult? I picked this book up *hoping* that it would be really good, but deep down I was expecting it to be a lot like a sappy, emotionally manipulative made-for-TV movie. Luckily, it didn't let me down that way -- the main character Kyra was truly well-developed, and the plot took some incredibly intriguing twists and turns.
Things I really loved about the book -- 1) How Kyra's strength and determination grows throughout the book, instead of springing from nowhere. 2) The fact that very few characters in the book are all good or all awful -- even if there are so many family members (and with that many mothers and siblings, it's unavoidable!) and other characters that few are developed with any depth, they at least aren't black and white. As the story progresses, Kyra finds surprising little nuggets of support from people she'd feared and disliked, and is let down by some people she had idolized.
The only thing about the book that left me really unhappy was how abrupt the ending was -- I really hope that there is a sequel planned, because that is the only good excuse I can think of for leaving the ending hanging so oddly. ...more info
- Great Book
This was a wonderful and hearthbreaking book. Thanks to shows like Big Love, and recent incidents involving Polygamist "cults" that was in the news more people are paying attention or is simply more curious about this secreative and seemingly strange lifestyle.
This story takes into this world where we see a young lady faced with horrible choices risk leaving her family, punishment, humiliation and challenge all she knows or marry an old man...her uncle. This is a exciting,hearthbreaking, depressing, drama filled novel.
What consenting adults freely do is there business but it is sad how this lifestyle affects children and women world wide.
This maybe a young adult novel but adults will enjoy it as well....more info
- exciting young adult drama
In the Chosen Ones compound, the leader Prophet Childs, accompanied by three apostles, visits the trailer home of the extended Carlson family to provide them with a treasured gift. He informs the patriarch, his three wives and twenty-one children that thirteen year old Kyra will become the seventh wife of her Uncle Hyrum; her father's brother who is sixty years old.
Her father and biological mother are stunned by the "good" news. They understand why the oldest offspring is unacceptable for an important apostle like his sibling, but cannot fathom an elderly uncle making his teen niece pregnant. Kyra is even more horrified as she has been reading banned books from the library on wheels that have made her question the polygamist Commandments of the Chosen Ones. As their enforcers the God Squad goons insure everyone behaves through excess force, abuse and murder, Kyra wonders how she can escape this atrocity that feels like a rape of her soul and soon her body without causing her family repercussion atrocities.
This is an exciting young adult drama as Kyra's fears (for herself and her family) feel real and propel the story line. Character driven, readers will obtain a deep look at a sect whose dogma controls every aspect of life for the flock. Although somewhat over-killed to the extreme, as the elders ignore "Thou shall not kill by murdering parishioners, fans will enjoy this timely read as Carole Lynch Williams defines what it means to bestowed with the honor of being THE CHOSEN ONE while given no other choices.
- An unflinching look at the dark side of polygomy
This powerful novel doesn't pull many punches. The voice of the thirteen year old narrator will draw you into the insular world of "The Chosen" and make you care deeply about her and her family. This make the brutality of what happens to her all the more painful. Kyra does not want to marry her uncle, as decreed by the Prophet, and her response unleashes a torrent of violence intended to discipline her into obedience. Instead it drives her ever further away from the only world she's ever known.
This book is written for a young adult audience, which makes it a very fast read. However, the unflinching look at the darker side of polygomy might make some readers in this target audience uncomfortable. For younger readers that are just testing the waters of young adult fiction, the subject matter in this book might well be more than they are ready for. However, for readers with the appropriate levels of maturity, this is a powerful glimpse into the ways that religion and power can breed corruption and violence....more info
- A Horrifying Vision of Religion Dragged Down to the Pit of Hell
Carol Lynch Williams has presented a deceptively simple story about a young girl in the alleged Heaven-on-earth compound populated by the Chosen Ones. Marriage is polygamous. Religion, family and a work ethic is dominant, and all are meant to be free of temptation to sin. And that freedom from temptation is guaranteed by the Prophet and his God Squad, who are determined to keep control of those Chosen Ones by maintaining ignorance, beatings, torture, murder, incest, and elimination of the helpless deemed defective.
Power is in the hands of those at the top, who got there by going along with whatever the Prophet requires. The rewards for the most extreme enforcers are larger homes with greater amenities, and a collection of child brides to defile. Those who resist will be taught not to -- by any means necessary. Families have been ripped apart, with wives and children given out as prizes to those with the most ruthless abilities. Young boys who present a threat to the old men are driven off.
The Chosen Ones have given up freedom to gain security, and as a result have lost both.
From this pit of Hell emerges Kyra, a thirteen year old with spirit and imagination, who seeks out moments of solitude on a high tree branch outside her trailer home. From this great height, she can see the compound as a whole. There are books that have been discovered from a county bookmobile, and yes, there is a certain young man that she loves.
All of this is forbidden, and the punishments could destroy Kyra and all that she holds dear.
The Chosen One is nothing short of brilliant. The opening passage will haunt me forever. I don't believe that a young adult novel has ever effected me so tremendously. Carol Lynch Williams' novel should be in every school and city library -- that is, unless you live in a community that fears the discovery of knowledge....more info
- The Chosen One
I really liked this book. It was very believable. I felt all the feelings that Kyra felt. I was moved by this writer. The only thing that was sad is I have no idea what happened to Joshua. I hope there is a sequal. Worth the read. :)...more info