Friday, 30 July 2010
Review: The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Released: August 5th, 2010
Grade rating: A
Thirteen-year-old Kyra has grown up in her isolated community without ever questioning the fact that her father has three wives and she has twenty brothers and sisters; without ever questioning the strict rules imposed by 'the Prophet who leads them. But now Kyra has started keeping secrets. She reads books that are forbidden and sneaks away to meet Joshua, the boy she hopes to choose for herself, instead of having a husband chosen for her. Kyra knows that it's only a matter of time before her two secret loves are discovered. And when the Prophet decrees that she is to become the seventh wife of her sixty-year-old uncle, Kyra is forced to make a desperate choice. But saving herself means endangering everyone she's ever cared for. How far should she go for freedom?
The Chosen One is, without a doubt, one of the best books of 2010. It'll break your heart and make you feel grateful for your life all at the same time, while displaying a mental strength and determination like no other. It's a book you'll read in one sitting, not daring to look away for fear of what might happen to Kyra and her family.
Kyra's struggle is one of the more difficult things I've read about, thanks to her seemingly hopeless, bleak existence as part of a polygamist cult. She has no choices, no voice, and no way to break free of this life she doesn't want. A normal life is out of the question but, rather than stand still and watch everything happen around her, she decides to do something about it. Kyra's bravery and courage is so inspiring, and is easily my favourite part of the book. She stands up for what's right and what she believes in, and is willing to risk her life for her rightful freedom. She's amazing.
Beautifully written in a style that lends itself to a poetic description, The Chosen One explores far too many themes and issues to mention here. Love, hope and sacrifice all play a huge part in Kyra's story and, as you peel one layer away, you're instantly met with another. At times, the events unfolding were so tense that I found myself tempted to skip ahead a few pages, just so I could reassure myself that things would be okay. That's all Kyra's doing, and it's been a while since I've felt so attached to a main character. If I could have dived into the pages and saved her myself, I would have done.
Writing so realistically about a subject like this - a polygamist cult - is above and beyond what I expected from a YA novel. I didn't expect such a brutally honest insight into what life is like in communities like this, and it really has left me thinking, even a few months after first reading it. It shocked me to the core, made me appreciate everything I take for granted, and left me with a strong urge to read everything Carol Lynch Williams has ever written. Seriously, she's that good.
There's no way this review can do it justice, but I'll just say that The Chosen One is a fantastic, daring story, and is an absolute must-read. I very highly recommended it.