Friday, February 8, 2013

Review: The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams

Summary: Thirteen-year-old Kyra has grown up in an isolated community without questioning the fact that her father has three wives and she has twenty brothers and sisters, with two more on the way. That is, without questioning them much---if you don’t count her secret visits to the Mobile Library on Wheels to read forbidden books, or her meetings with Joshua, the boy she hopes to choose for herself instead of having a man chosen for her.But when the Prophet decrees that she must marry her sixty-year-old uncle---who already has six wives---Kyra must make a desperate choice in the face of violence and her own fears of losing her family forever.

Kim's Review: I was first introduced to this story in English class a few weeks ago. We were learning about annotating, and the teacher passed out an excerpt from The Chosen One for us to work on. I immediately thought the story was interesting, certainly better than the boring sports articles we had been working on for the last week. I later found out that this was one of the books on the school library's reading list and made a mental note to check it out. However, I kept putting it off since I was always reading other books. Last week, I walked with my friend to the library, where she returned her copy of The Chosen One and said that she loved it. The librarian agreed with her and told us she had read it in just a few short hours. Finally, yesterday my friend gave me her copy from the library. Before my first class this morning, I was on page eight, and I had finished it by the time my last class ended.

This is a really unique story. I have never read anything like it. The book is told from the point of view of Kyra, a thirteen year old girl living on a polygamist compound. She is confined to the boundaries of this compound, save for the couple of times she has gone into town with her family and the weekly, secret trips to the Ironton County Library on Wheels, where she borrows forbidden books. One day the leader of the Compound, Prophet Childs, and his Apostles come to Kyra's family's trailer to announce that God has "revealed" to him that Kyra is to marry her sixty year old uncle. Of course, Kyra is against the marriage and does not want to go through with it. Her parents are very unhappy about it but accept that it must be done, for it is God's will. Her uncle is perfectly fine with it, and will not take no for answer. Can she somehow get out of going through with the marriage?

Not only is the plot compelling, but the writing is fantastic. Lynch Williams's writing is pretty simple, almost prose-like. She doesn't get too in depth with useless descriptions, which I appreciated (and is probably why the book is only about 220 pages long), and the writing flows beautifully.

The Chosen One is also pretty unpredictable. While reading one page, you may think Kyra will find a way to escape from the Compound, but after reading the next you'll be skeptical. There isn't a way of knowing whether she gets a happy ending or not until you reach the end.

Like the school librarian, I finished this book in a couple of hours, not only because it's pretty short but because it's definitely a page-turner. I encourage everyone to read this book; if you're skeptical but find yourself with an hour or two to spare, give it a chance, and before you know it you'll find yourself on the last page.

P.S. I first wrote that this book was 120 pages long, but it turns out it's 220. I don't remember the last time I read that much in a day. It seriously goes by fast.

(4.5/5 stars)

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