Summary and book reviews of The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams

The Chosen One

By Carol Lynch Williams

The Chosen One
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  • Hardcover: May 2009,
    224 pages.
    Paperback: Aug 2010,
    240 pages.

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Book 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. That is, without questioning it much - if you don't count her visits to the Ironton County Mobile Library on Wheels to read forbidden books, or her secret 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 Kyra must marry her sixty-year-old uncle - who already has six wives - she must make a desperate choice in the face of violence and her own fears of losing her family forever.

An American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults.

A YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers.

Recommended by The New England Children's Booksellers Association.

"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.

"I"m not sure how I'd kill him. Yet." I pause so Mariah can see I am dead serious. Then I take in a big breath of air and plow ahead. "But once he's gone, I"d drag his body right next to a termite nest. Not a thing would be left of him in three hours. There're termites in Africa that can do that. No one would ever know what...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. In some ways, a polygamist family is very different from most American families, yet in other ways, very similar. How is Kyra’s family different from your family? How are they the same? Were you surprised by these similarities?

  2. Discuss the differences and similarities between a religion and a cult. What specific events in the book identify The Chosen as a cult?

  3. What is the role of power—and the lack of power—among The Chosen? How do these differ for men? Women? Children? Teens? How are the adults in Kyra’s life victims, and how are they aggressors?

  4. There are stories of escapes and attempted escapes from both before and after the current “Prophet” comes to power. Indeed, one of Kyra’s ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse

Writing young adult fiction is a tricky endeavor, for the reader walks a fine line between juvenile and adult worlds. A successful book of this genre must tread ever so carefully on the line that separates interesting and evocative from inappropriate. It must provoke thought without being overly explicit. No easy feat when the subject matter is polygamy.

The Chosen One serves as a fine example of handling such a difficult issue deftly ... Kyra's story is not easily forgotten and offers up ancillary topics such as the importance of libraries, the subjugation of women and the dangers of extremist fundamentalism, to name just a few.   (Reviewed by BJ Nathan Hegedus).

Full Review Members Only (1097 words).

Media Reviews
Author Blurb Gregory Maguire, author of Wicked and A Lion Among Men
The Chosen One makes the heart race, the teeth grind, and the brow bead up in sweat. Carol Lynch Williams presents a first-person narrative that gallops just behind—or perhaps in advance of—contemporary headlines about the manipulation of the innocent. I could choose no other book or newspaper until I had finished the final page.

Author Blurb Cynthia Kadohata, winner of the 2005 Newbery Medal for Kira-Kira
The Chosen One is absolutely riveting and perfectly formed. I had planned to read just a few pages one evening before bed, and I ended up staying awake until four in the morning to finish it! It’s a wonderful book.

Booklist - Ilene Cooper

This is a heart pounder, and readers will be held, especially as the danger escalates. Williams' portrayals of the family are sharp, but what's most interesting about this book is how the yearnings and fears of a character so far from what most YAs know will still seem familiar and close.

Publishers Weekly

Williams's highlighting all aspects of cult membership, rather than relying on one-sided generalizations, makes this a prudent and powerful read. Ages 12-up.

VOYA

Although most teenagers cannot relate directly to Kyra's plight, her emotions are so strong and universal that teenage readers will find the book thrilling and hard to forget.

Kirkus Reviews

"Intensely gripping and grippingly intense ... Kyra's terrible dilemma - escaping her fate means betraying her family- heartbreakingly real, and the final scenes are riveting and suspenseful."

Reader Reviews
Merlene Johnson-Nelson

My Thoughts
My thoughts on this book was very bad at first. I had to go back and re-read the book over a couple of times to get a better understanding of the book. As I re-read the book for a third time I finally understood what the book was really about.

Brenna Llanes

Best read!
I read this book for my book report for school and it was absolutely magnificent i enjoyed every sentence in this exciting thriller!

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Beyond the Book

The Lost Boys
While The Chosen One focuses primarily on the plight of Kyra, a young girl growing up in an unspecified polygynous fundamentalist community, it also explores the issue of the 'lost boys'.

The lost boys is a term used to describe young men raised within polygynous Mormon sects such as the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) who, being deemed unfit, are forced out of the community. While a handful of boys leave of their own volition, the vast majority are excommunicated for what is deemed sinful conduct. This includes such actions as watching television, listening to music, wearing short-sleeved shirts or talking to girls.

It appears that the real motivating factor at play here is the ...

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