13-year-old Kyra has grown up accepting that her father has three wives and she has twenty brothers and sisters. She’s grown up isolated from the outside world, cut off by a fence and told that the people in her compound are The Chosen Ones, pure in Gods eye and saved from the devil who has corrupted society outside of the community. She’s grown up in a world where books, television and anything that could corrupt the mind are strictly banned. She’s grown up knowing you never question the prophet, who lives in a huge mansion on the outskirts of the settlement and to fear The God Squad, the security who patrol making sure none of The Chosen Ones step out of line.
But Kyra has begun to question the rules of the polygamist cult where she lives. After coming across Patrick- driver of a mobile library, on one of her secret trips beyond the fence, she’s discovered a love of books. Then there’s fifteen-year-old Joshua and the increasing attraction between the two in snatched secret meetings. They hope to be allowed to ‘choose’ each other rather than have a husband ‘chosen’ for Kyra. But when the Prophet declares god has chosen Kyra’s sixty-year-old uncle, she’s forced to make an agonising decision. One that will take every ounce of strength and courage she has, knowing that saving herself could endanger those she loves most.
Sometimes a book grabs you so forcefully that you can’t stop reading until you’ve turned the very last page. The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams is one of those books. Yes, at just over 200 pages it’s quite short, but this is a huge and powerful book nonetheless and Kyra’s story will stay with you for a long time after you’ve finished.
Brought up in a polygamist religious cult Kyra is expected to follow the laws laid down by leader, Prophet Childs. She can’t read books, watch TV or use a computer…they’re all banned to stop the members of the cult being influenced by the outside world. Yet Kyra is curious and strong enough to question this. She knows how she’ll be punished if she’s discovered reading, yet she still does it. She knows she’s not supposed to feel the way she does about Joshua, even though it feels so natural to her and she cannot accept that it’s right to become one of her sixty-year old uncles many wives at just thirteen years old. But unlike the others her human spirit cannot be tamed and ruled, not when deep down she feels the rules her community live by are wrong. I had nothing but admiration in this thirteen-year girl in who Carol Lynch Williams captures the very essence of what it is to be human. To question. To make choices. To Love. To be free.
The Chosen One is shocking from the very first page. The tyranny with which the cruel Prophet Childs leads the cult is disturbing, violent and upsetting. Uncle Hyrum is the stuff of nightmares, only you know that people like this exist. I’m not sure I’ve ever felt so repulsed by two characters in a book as I did with these two. Of course the sick irony is that while dictating and brain washing the vulnerable and subservient lower members, the Prophet is living in luxury. I was angry reading this book. Angry for Kyra and angry for the others, those who had had their spirit beaten out of them.
With violent and disturbing scenes, The Chosen One isn’t the most pleasant book to read, but it’s one that should be read. Kyra’s story is one of hope and courage and reminded me how lucky I am to have my life, where I have freedom, so often taken for granted. Carol Lynch Williams writing is straight to the point, there’s no words wasted and she lays it down bare. Once I started, I couldn’t stop reading. I had to know what happened and finished it in one sitting. Once I’d read the last page I felt stunned, emotional and just sat and thought about it for a while. I’m still thinking about it twenty-four hours later. I feel I truly connected with and cared for Kyra and desperately want to know what happened next for her, once the story ended. The Chosen One is an extraordinary and affecting book and one I’ll not forget in a hurry. a must read for everyone.
Published in the UK 5th august 2010 by Simon and Schuster
Thanks to Book Chick City for passing me this book for review on behalf of the publishers.