The Chosen One
by Carol Lynch Williams
Available in paperback, audio CD, audio download and Kindle format. St. Martin's Griffin, 2009; ISBN: 0312555113; 224 pages.
With this book the author, a Mormon herself, looks inside a polygamist cult and the dangers it poses for one girl. Kyra and her father, three mothers, and 20 siblings live in an isolated community controlled by an extremist prophet. Already he has altered their lives far from normal through manipulation, intimidation and fear. Tensions increase when the prophet decrees that Kyra must marry her 60-year-old uncle. Meanwhile, Kyra builds a secret and forbidden friendship with a patron of a local mobile library. Kyra knows there’s a world away from the compound she might escape to, but leaving would put much at stake: her family's safety, her budding relationship with a boy on the compound; all that she has ever known would change if she even tried to leave the prophet's domain.
This text is expertly written! The fully developed characters pull readers into the haunting story. I quickly became engrossed and couldn't put it down, even if I wanted to. This novel offers a much more educational look at the cultist side of polygamy than many nonfiction books. Perfect.
My only concern is the target audience. This book is labeled YA (Young Adult) and specifically marketed to teens between grades 7 and 10. As a parent, I would not encourage my kids to read it, not without serious commentary via parental discussions. If you let your kids watch Big Love on HBO, then, sure. They'll love this book. But I strongly encourage parents to read it first, before allowing their teens to read it. The content includes polygamy (of course), child brides, violence (both domestic and community), and physical abuse of an infant, among other things not necessarily appropriate for young readers. Without parental guidance, I recommend it for ages 17 and up.
Final Thoughts: The YA genre label may actual limit this book's audience. With proper parental involvement, it could be a great read, a wonderful discussion starter for families. But labeled as YA, I doubt this will garner a truly appreciative audience: adults. I really enjoyed this book! Had it been labeled for adults, I would definitely give it a higher rating. Beautiful writing and a suspenseful, intriguing plot. This book with stay with me for quite a while.