Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams

Thirteen-year-old Kyra has grown up in an isolated community without questioning the fact that her father has three wives and she has twenty brothers and sisters, with two more on the way. That is, without questioning them much--if you don't count her secret visits to the Ironton Coutny Mobile Library on Wheels to read forbidden books, or her meetings with Joshua, the boy she hopes to choose for herself instead of having a man chosen for her.

But when the Prophet decrees that she must marry her sixty-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 forever.

This tale is absolutely extraordinary. Powerfully written, it hits many themes, many of them controversial. The most dominant is religion, and when it goes too far: Kyra's community runs on the belief that for a man to get into heaven, he must have at least three wives and many children; a woman can only reach heaven with her husband's assistance. In addition, women have no choice about whom they marry: the match is either decreed by the Prophet or chosen by the man as one might pick a horse.

Sounds like something from centuries ago, right? The Chosen One is set in modern times, complete with computers (not that most of the Chosen get to use one) and Harry Potter (banned along with all other books that aren't the Bible).

Kyra's struggle for love and for freedom brings her off the page and into the heart.

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