Friday, August 7, 2009

Book Review: The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams

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.

23 comments:

Melanie said...

This book has been in my TBR pile for a couple months now. I'm hoping to read it next. I've heard nothing but good things about it. Glad you enjoyed it!

PJ Hoover said...

Totally agree! I started it one night at 11:00 and stayed up until I was done. I could not put it down.

Nicole said...

I'm glad you enjoyed this book as much as I did! I did the exact same thing... picked it up right before bed and stayed up most of the night. Totally worth it though! Great review. :)

bermudaonion said...

Your review is fantastic! You've expressed how I felt about this novel so much better than I did.

TERI REES WANG said...

A little real-life-sorta-scary..?

Wow.

Jazz said...

I read a bit of this at the store and the language was just so simple that it was a bit bring to read. BUT since you've given it such a good review and I am interested in anything polygamist, I will give it another shot.

ANovelMenagerie said...

It was a really good book. I gace it a high rating!

B.A.M. Book Reviews said...

Good review! This book sounds so great.

-Briana

Charley said...

This book has been on my list for a while, though I'm slow getting around to it.

rebrebs said...

I can't imagine what it would be like to live in a world like that, this book sounds very intense!

Staci said...

I really loved your review of this one Lenore!! I read it a few months ago and couldn't put it down!!! Excellent job.

susan said...

Call me the odd duck. I liked the main character but I learned nothing new, nothing unexpected. I thought it lacked nuance.

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks said...

I gave this to my daughter (13) to read ... hmm, this reminds me that she owes me a review!

I'm planning to read it, too :)

Amy said...

Great review, I read it in one sitting as well.

Diane said...

I really enjoyed the audio version of this book.

Beth F said...

I have heard such great things about this book. Am I the only one who hasn't read it?

kay - Infinite Shelf said...

Great review! I really want to read this one : there seems to be a consensus about it, I've only read great things on it.

Hazra said...

Great review! Some other bloggers too have loved the book, so it goes on my TBR (that tower that never gets shorter!)

Rosaline said...

I loved this book -- a friend lent it to me before I went to the beach, and I spent a good two hours at the pool simply devouring it, because I couldn't find a point where I was willing to stop!

I, too, loved Kyra's voice, and the story is so gripping; Williams does such a good job in making us care about both Kyra and her family(and fear the Prophet and his council).

Melody said...

I can't wait to read it! I guess I need to move this book up on my pile! ;)

Zibilee said...

Great review! I hope to read this one soon, and am really glad that you liked it so much.

Rebecca :) said...

I have this book but have not gotten to it yet. So much to read, so little time to do it in! And so slowly do I read on top of that. Sigh.

S. Krishna said...

I really enjoyed this one as well!