Friday, August 20, 2010

The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams

Published: May 2009
Publisher: St Martin's Griffin
Pages: 213
Copy Provided by: Library
Summary: Goodreads

Thirteen-year-old Kyra has grown up in an isolated polygamous community without questioning her father’s three wives and her twenty brothers and sisters. Or at least without questioning them much—if you don’t count her secret visits to the Mobile Library on Wheels to read forbidden books, or her meetings with 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 60-year-old uncle—who already has six wives—Kyra must make a desperate choice in the face of violence and her own fears of losing her family.

I remember reading a quick summary of this book in a newsletter or in a blog. I am agnostic myself and while I do not have a religion, I certainly do not falter others who have beliefs different from my own. At first, I was weary to read this book and was concerned that it would be a bit preachy but this was not the case. It just sounded so intriguing!

The main character, Kyra is well-developed and as the story progresses, you see how strongly her beliefs are rooted. As small cracks in her beliefs fissure and start to spread, she slowly begins to question some of the actions of the God Squad, the Prophet and The Chosen One compound.  At first I thought that she may have been from a Mennonite or Amish community but then you discover that she is in a polygamous cult society.

There were a couple scenes in the book that I found particularly disturbing to read. One refers to a baby of less than a year old and the discipline she receives for crying at an "inappropriate time". The strength of this scene really hit home as to the harshness of this culture/cult.  (I have a toddler at home and cannot imagine treating my child like this or allowing someone else to.)

Page 80

Mother Claire holds her hands out to take the baby. They tremble. She won't look me in the eye. She won't look Father or Uncle Hyrum in the eye either. She cuddles Mariah to her chest. Her belly supports Mariah's bare bottom.

"Deliver the punishement," Uncle Hyrum says....

Being forced to marry her (much older) uncle is a catalyst that sets off a much faster-paced storyline. During the last 100 pages or so, the story really picked up. Of course she doesn't want to marry her uncle! But if she doesn't then she is considered disobedient and will bring shame to her family. It puts them in a difficult position. If she does marry Uncle Hyrum, she will be miserable for the rest of her life.

In many ways this story could be compared to cultures around the world that have strict conditions regarding arranged marriage and the freedom to choose whom you want to spend the rest of your life with. I found The Chosen Ones to be an incredibly thought-provoking and intricately woven story. Great for an ISU or just an interesting read to make you reflect on your own freedoms (or lack of).

So tell me, what would you do if one day someone made you question everything you thought you believed to be true? If your family were in danger because of your actions, would you save your family? Or save yourself?

1 comment:

  1. I think I am going to read the book. I question the things I believe on a daily basis, but if my family was in danger becuase of my beliefs I have clue what I would do. I know I would fight, even if it meant the worst was to happen.