13 year old Kyra lives in an isolated polygamist community where the word of the megalomaniacal Prophet is law. And when the Prophet announces that God told him Kyra is to marry her 60 year old uncle in mere weeks, Kyra knows she has to get away. Because Kyra has secrets – not only has she secretly been reading HARRY POTTER and BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA from the bookmobile, she’s also in love with a boy her own age from the compound.
I picked this up last night before going to bed, planning only to read a chapter or so, but I didn’t stop reading until I was done (and I am very tired today as a result). It’s just that gripping. It’s not really what happens so much – thanks to the media, we all are well aware of the plight of young girls in polygamist sects – but more the how. Kyra’s voice is so raw and immediate that she feels very real and your heart goes out to her.
And it’s not just Kyra who suffers, but the rest of the family as well. Kyra’s father is rather low on the totem pole, allotted only worn-out trailer homes for his measly 3 wives and 20 children, because he is a decent man who doesn’t believe in making his family cower before him as is the way of the higher-ups. The Prophet makes it obvious that if Kyra doesn’t follow his orders, her family will be punished, which makes her decision all the more tortured. The nuanced exploration of the various interpersonal relationships on the compound is especially fascinating. So much can be said in a downcast gaze, in rigidly set lips or a full plate of food in front of a leader when the followers make do with scraps.
It’s an unsettling novel with an ending left ambiguously open, but it’s highly worth a couple of hours of lost sleep.
THE CHOSEN ONE is out now in hardcover. Find out more about it at the publisher's website.