The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams

When 13-year old Kyra is told that she must marry her 60-year old uncle, because God has said so, she is horrified.  Kyra, her three mothers, twenty siblings, and her father live in the Compound where the Prophet controls their lives through “visions” from God.  Members of a polygamous group, they live in the desert 50 miles from the nearest town.  In the past, the people were permitted to visit the town any time they wished.  But since the new prophet has come into power, the group has become more and more sequestered from the rest of the world; Satan’s world.  Violence and a distorted religious world view rule the world of the polygamists.  Books have been banned and burned.  Young adults who break the rules are severely punished and put on display as examples.  Women have no rights, other than to marry the men chosen for them and bear children.  

For a long time, Kyra has been clandestinely sneaking off the compound, meeting the local bookmobile.  Through the magic of the books that are banned on the Compound, she has entered new worlds and opened up her own.  When she falls in love with a boy on the Compound, her world is turned upside-down.  Which world is right?  The one in her books or the one on the Compound?  Can she marry her uncle to save her father and the rest of her family from ruin and punishment? When she makes her decision, the repercussions may be fatal.  For Kyra, her family, and those who want to help her.  

This is a compelling, powerful, chilling, and unforgettable book.  Carol Lynch Williams pulls you into Kyra’s world, as frightening and tragic as it is.  The climax will have you turning the pages as fast as you can while at the same time wanting to throw the book across the room.  Like a car wreck that you can’t turn away from, this book will enthrall you and horrify you at once.  Kyra is a strong girl fighting against the tides of religion, faith, love, and hatred.  Her strength of spirit is inspiring.

This is a book that will inspire conversations.  Some of them may be uncomfortable, but encourage them.  This is a book that will make its readers think.  Think about faith. About love.  About truth.  About life.  I know this book will fly off the shelves.  Its mix of romance, action, and even what some would call realistic horror (unfortunately), will grip students.  Available in May, I can not recommend Carol Lynch Williams’ The Chosen One enough. If you can get your hands on an ARC, do it! This one is not to be missed.  The only aspect of the book I was unhappy with was the ending.  Why?  Because it ended!  I wanted to continue reading about Kyra and her resiliency.  So Ms. Williams?  Keep writing!

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