Category Archives: carol lynch williams
Carol Lynch Williams’ The Chosen One is the story of Kyra, and her sheltered life on a polygamist compound. She’s one of her father’s twenty one children with three wives, and is finding difficulty with adhering to the sect’s values. Stealing away little moments from the community, Kyra finds solace with forbidden books borrowed from the Ironton County Mobile Library on Wheels and clandestine meetings with a boy, Joshua. But her world is shattered when the Prophet declares she must wed an Apostle of the community – her sixty-year old uncle, and she will be his seventh wife.
Despite its tragic subject matter, The Chosen One is easily one of the best books I’ve read this year. Williams’ approach toward the polygamist lifestyle couldn’t have been easy, but she pulls it off magnificently. This is accentuated by the razor-sharp first page that paints the scene of Kyra, trapped in the closely-monitored world of the Compound, and dealing with complex issues beyond schoolgirl worries.
“If I was going to kill the Prophet,” I say, not even keeping my voice low, “I’d do it in Africa.”
I look into Mariah’s light green eyes. She stares back at me and smiles, like she knows what I mean and agrees. Like she’s saying, “Go on, Kyra. Tell me more.”
I kick the toe of my sneaker into the desert sand. Even this late in the evening, with the sun sinking over my shoulder, the ground is leftover hot from the day. I can feel the heat through the soles of my shoes. Feel the heat coming up from the ground, through my tights, right under the skirt of my past- the- knees dress. There isn’t even a bit of a breeze.
The rest of the novel is just as well-written, just as tense. From page one, Williams strikes a perfect balance with a mixture of moments with Kyra her family and the gripping scenes that follow once the marriage decree is given. The inner monologues of Kyra are a genuine look at the mind of a thirteen year old as Kyra agonizes over what to do, and the “sins” she commits. They fit perfectly and seem so real, even within this horrifying ordeal she faces.
One aspect of the novel I really liked was the fact her family was opposed to her marrying an uncle and tried everything in their power to fight the decision. Just the very fact they oppose the “revelation” the Prophet had holds severe consequences for the family, and yet their love for Kyra is more important than the faith, despite the fact this could prove to be a better way of life for them.
There are several scenes in The Chosen One that will sadden you, and will anger you, and it’s even more disheartening to realize some of the scenes are based on true-life events. However, the book raises questions on how religion and power can corrupt a people, how people can commit atrocious acts in the name of God, and takes a look at what defines innocence. A reading guide is available that allows readers to explore themes in the novel. It does reveal elements of the book and features an interview with the author.
Title: The Chosen One
Date: May 2009
Publisher: St. Martins Griffin
Copy for review provided by the publisher.