Title: The Chosen One
Author: Carol Lynch Williams
Genre: YA contemporary fiction
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy from my own library
First line: “If I was going to kill the Prophet,” I say, not even keeping my voice low, “I’d do it in Africa.”
Kyra Leigh is thirteen years old. She lives in a closed polygamist community called The Chosen Ones. Her father has three wives, and Kyra has over a dozen siblings. This is the only life she has ever known, although the books she has been secretly checking out from Patrick, the driver of the mobile library van, have shown her that the world has so much more to offer. The books give her a bigger picture, but she doesn’t expect anything different for herself. Her biggest dream is that she will be able to marry Joshua, the boy she is growing to love, instead of having a husband chosen for her.
Her dream is shattered, though, when the Prophet makes a visit to her family’s home and announces that Kyra has been chosen to marry 60-year-old Brother Hyrum. He is her uncle, her father’s brother. Kyra is faced with obeying the Prophet or knowing that her whole family – her father, her three mothers, and the sisters she loves so much – will face his wrath.
In The Chosen One Williams has given the reader a vivid picture of what life in a polygamist sect is like for the young girls who live there. Kyra is so torn; she wants to stay with her family and yet is horrified at the idea of marrying a man old enough to be her grandfather, a man who is related to her by blood.
I devoured this book in a couple of hours, and Kyra became so real to me. I ached for her and for the life-and-death decisions she was forced to make at such a young age, an age when her biggest concerns should have been about school and friends. I couldn’t help but think about all the young girls who find themselves in Kyra’s position, abused by a religious cult that tells them their only value is in what they can do for the older men of the community, to feed their perverted desires and have their babies.
Williams doesn’t simplify the problem, either – it is easy to see how difficult it would be for a girl like Kyra, a girl who has been taught to live in such a structured, restrictive way, to get along in the culture of the outside, secular world. It is necessary to remove them from their abusive environments, but in doing so, they are removed from the only family and community they have ever known. There aren’t any easy answers, for Kyra, or for the girls who find themselves living out her story in real life.