The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams
Grade 7 Up–In this thriller, 13-year-old Kyra lives in an isolated polygamist cult. Life in the compound is as dry as the surrounding desert, more confining than the chain-link fence on its perimeter. But Kyra finds small freedoms despite the tightly controlled communal environment and is able to slip outside to wander the desert. There she chances upon a friendly book-mobile driver who opens the world of children’s literature to her. Kyra even begins a flirtation with her classmate, Joshua, a dangerous sin for which they will both pay dearly. The brutal leader, Prophet Childs, has plans for Kyra and will brook no disobedience. He assigns her to be the seventh wife of her own 60-year-old uncle. Repelled, she resists. She and Joshua are badly beaten and she is told that other young people have been killed for taking a similarly defiant stand. Kyra’s loving father is powerless to help her and counsels her to accept her fate, but she cannot. The story ends in a high-speed chase with the Prophet’s goons gunning for her as she improbably races toward freedom in the blood-spattered book mobile. Has the friendly driver been killed on her account? Is anyone looking for him? What retribution will be taken on her family and what kind of a life lies ahead for her? These unsettling questions are not addressed, but these omissions do not diminish the relief of her successful escape. For a more layered examination of the internal as well as external struggles of a young teen coming of age in a polygamist community, see Shelley Hrdlitschka’s Sister Wife (Orca, 2008).–Carolyn Lehman, Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA
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