Beyond the Book: Background information when reading The Chosen One

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The Chosen One

by Carol Lynch Williams

The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams
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  • First Published:
    May 2009, 224 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 2010, 240 pages

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BJ Nathan Hegedus

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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 shortage of girls and the surplus of boys due to the practice of polygyny. For example, FLDS doctrine states that men must marry a minimum of three wives to get into heaven, and they are expected to produce as many children as possible. It is common practice for these “celestial marriages” to take place between young girls and middle aged men.

Primarily located in southern Utah and Arizona, FLDS enclaves are remote and isolated. In some cases boys as young as thirteen have literally been turned out onto desolate roads with only the clothes on their backs.  Most youngsters have been home schooled with minimal formal education and few life skills. Their exposure beyond their own environment is almost nil making them ill prepared for functioning in the outside world.

Adding to the trauma of their ordeal, the boys are informed that they are now dead to their families and contact is forbidden. Because FLDS doctrine teaches that plural marriage is the only way into heaven, the lost boys are additionally burdened with the belief that not only are they banned from their families on earth, but they will not be allowed into heaven and are bound for hell. Many boys, unable to cope with an ordeal encompassing so much emotional and physical trauma, turn to drugs and alcohol.

A good resource for information on the lost boys and their plight is the 2010 documentary, Sons of Perdition. Film makers Tyler Measom and Jennilyn Merten delved into the lives of four lost boys over a four year period. Their heartbreaking film brings deep insight into the appalling situation these young men are suddenly thrust into and how they try to cope and make their way.



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