The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams
|The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: Intense and claustrophic look at polygamist cults in America. It's shocking but sensitive and riveting read, deftly handled. Recommended.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 224||Date: August 2010|
|Publisher: Simon & Schuster|
|External links: Author's website|
Thirteen-year-old Kyra has one father, three mothers, and twenty siblings - yes, twenty - with another two on the way. She lives on a polygamist compound run by Prophet Childs. His father had been Prophet before him, but since his father's death and Prophet Childs' accession, things have taken a turn for the worse. A fence has gone up around the compound. Adolescent boys are driven off, and the Prophet seems to be choosing younger and younger girls to marry older and older men. And now, it's Kyra's turn. Prophet Childs announces that she is to marry her sixty-year-old uncle. And her father is afraid to refuse him.
Kyra is determined this can't happen. Her secret visits to borrow books from the Ironton County Mobile Library on Wheels have shown her a different world. And her clandestine meetings with Joshua Johnson have shown her what love could really be like.
Should Kyra try to run away with Joshua? What would happen to her family if she did? And even if she could, does she have the courage?
This is such a striking novel. Lynch Williams juxtaposes the reader's shock at the environment in which Kyra lives with Kyra's strong love for her family. It's not Stockholm syndrome; Kyra understands the hypocrisy of the Prophet perfectly well. She simply loves her family. And so we can see that her prison bars aren't the fences around the compound at all; they're the threat of separation. The same thing forces Kyra's father to acquiesce to an incestuous marriage for his daughter. Nobody who reads this book can retreat to the safety of saying I wouldn't put up with that. Because it's all too clear that we probably would.
And so when Kyra shows her courage, we appreciate it all the more and we root for her like there's no tomorrow.
I thought The Chosen One was a remarkable book: accessible and full of tension, and tremendously intimate too - it really draws you in. Better still, it gives great pause for thought. There are questions of morality, of course. And more questions about the nature of love. And more questions about religious sects and even more about the way we choose to live. It's tender and compassionate too - and the world could certainly do with as much compassion as it can get.
My thanks to the good people at Simon & Schuster for sending the book.
Cults are also explored in The Amethyst Child by Sarah Singleton, a tense and menacing but sensuous and evocative novel.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams at Amazon.com.
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