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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

My review of The Chosen by Carol Lynch Williams

About the book:

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. That is, without questioning it much—if you don’t count her visits to the Ironton County Mobile Library on Wheels to read forbidden books, or her secret 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 Kyra must marry her sixty-year-old uncle—who already has six wives—she must make a desperate choice in the face of violence and her own fears of losing her family forever.

My review:

I thought this book looked interesting when I picked it up at the store a few years ago. I put it on the shelf with my hundreds of other "to-be-read" books and decided to finally read it the other day. I flew through the pages because it was so intense and interesting. The crazy thing is there is an actual polygamist cult in Arizona that is way up northern border. A former coworker of mine (when I worked for CPS) said it's very dangerous to work up there due to the cults having guns and being very protective of their community. They are threatening to outsiders. In short, it sounded very much like the book. So that intrigued me even more.

I loved the author's "voice" and how she tells the story in the first person point of view. I also appreciated how well the other showed the women's fear and how trapped the families were inside the cult. To try to leave pretty much guaranteed you'd get hurt or go missing (and possibly killed.) Some of the young women had been raised in the cult and it was all they knew. People outside the cult, according to their leader, were Satan and must be avoided to prevent them from being negatively influenced. In truth, it was to keep them from finding out their way of life was abusive and morally wrong. But most of the women had been part of the cult for several generations. So they tolerated abuse to protect the ones they loved. The most offensive practice was the marrying off of young girls (ages 13 and 14) to older men (like in their 60s.) Those young girls were still growing up themselves but they had no choice but to obey, or be beaten and lose contact with their loved ones. Very sad stuff.

There is one last thing I have to share that I thought was pretty cool. The author showed how because Kyra was still strong and had not been broken in spirit, she had strength enough to recognize something wasn't right about "The Chosen" cult. Her greatest sin was reading books (that wasn't allowed) by borrowing them from a bookmobile. She also fell in love with another boy close to her age. Because she read books, she knew that there was another reality besides the cult that she lived in. She also knew that loving a boy close to her age seemed right, and marrying an old man who was also her uncle, was very wrong. In short, her strength came from the little things she did to rebel and keep her own identity. Those are the things that kept her spirit strong enough to fight and not just blindly submit to the leaders. Great story!

The Chosen was published by St Martin's Griffin and released in 2010.

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