Sunday, May 24, 2009

THE CHOSEN ONE by Carol Lynch Williams posted by Mrs. Schauer

by Carol Lynch Williams
AR: Yes
Interest Level: Middle and Upper Grades

I first heard about this one by reading a post written by Cynthia Leitich Smith, praising it's merits. I spent all day yesterday glued to my Kindle--once I started reading it I could not put it down.

The story is Kyra's, a thirteen year old girl who lives on a polygamist compound that is home to "The Chosen Ones," and is run with an iron fist by "The Prophet," a man everyone worships because he claims to be in close communication with God. Over the years, the prophet has demanded the compound become more and more closed off from the rest of the world. A huge fence has been erected around the compound, and all communication with the outside world, including books and newspapers has become forbidden. Kyra is the most headstrong of her twenty (yes, twenty!) brothers and sisters. She is a constant worry for her father and his three wives. She wants to be obedient, but she sometimes has difficulty blindly accepting the laws of the prophet.

Kyra carries secrets--she secretly sneaks to the edge of the compound to meet the Mobile Library on Wheels where she checks out one forbidden book at a time, that she hides and reads at the top of her favorite tree. She's secretly in love with a boy named Joshua--whom she hopes and prays will be able to "choose her" as his wife as soon as he is old enough. Her darkest, and most fearsome secret though, the one that she fears will cause possible eternal damnation for her and her family, are her private thoughts--of killing the prophet.

Kyra's life begins to spiral out of control when the prophet pays her family a visit and decrees that he has seen vision, and that Kyra has been chosen to marry her sixty year old uncle. From the minute this announcement is made, Kyra's life becomes a nightmare. Without going into details, I will say that Kyra learns the hard way that life on the compound means threats, beatings, emotional and physical abuse, and banishments. She must decide if she will continue to live this way, or if she will take the risk of running away and abandoning her family forever.

This book was an easy, breezy read--as far as textual difficulty is concerned. I have to say, though, that it ranks up there with one of the most difficult books I've ever read--on an emotional level.

Bottom line: I loved this book and think it is going to be one of my top circulating titles as soon as school reopens in the fall.

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