02 March 2011

The Chosen One

The Chosen One

When I think back to the decisions I had to make when I was not quite 14, I realize that I had it pretty good.  All I had to worry about was making sure my shirt matched my pants and socks, whether or not I’d finished my homework, and how to get the cute boy (yep, that’s you Andy W.*) in my Language Arts class to notice me.  Reading the story of Kyra – a girl growing up in a polygamist compound, completely shut off from the outside world, and betrothed by the “Prophet” to her 60+ year old uncle before she even reaches her 14th I am lucky that I was raised to think for myself – though I definitely could not have done so at the age of 13. birthday – made me realize how lucky I am.

In The Chosen One, we follow as Kyra struggles with her upbringing.  On the one hand, she has her family – really three families blended together and headed by her very loving father who commits his time and his love to all of his children and his three wives.  Kyra cannot imagine a life without them and knows that the quickest way to Heaven is to do what is best for them.  On the other hand, she has the Ironton County Mobile Library that brings her forbidden books and a glimpse of the world on the outside, and Joshua Johnson, the boy who makes her feel alive and gives her meaning.  When she finds out she is to be bound to her uncle, her world turns upside down and she begins to struggle with her two lives: honoring her family or loving Joshua, her faith and the words of her prophet or her books and her freedom.

In this absolutely gripping novel, Williams has created the perfect coming-of-age character.  Kyra teeter-totters between a little girl who believes God knows everything she has done and will punish her for her sins, and a young woman who questions her faith – a faith that she has been raised never to question.  And Williams also does a tremendous job of developing the other characters, especially the men in Kyra’s life:  Prophet Childs, Patrick the book mobile driver, her father and her Uncle Hyrum – all the men who teach her what strength, courage and faith are.

All in all this book is stunning in it’s presentation of the subject matter and the journey Kyra takes as she – at the ripe old age of not-quite-fourteen – weighs and makes decisions that will affect her and those who love her forever.

This book was voted one of YALSA's 2010 Best Books for Young Adults

*for the record, Andy W. is still pretty darn cute, even with gray hair...

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