Reviews for Chosen One
Booklist Reviews 2009 February #2
Taking a story "ripped from the headlines," Williams looks inside a polygamist cult and the dangers it poses for one girl. Kyra and her father, three mothers, and 20 siblings live in an isolated community under the thumb of a prophet, who controls every aspect of his apostles lives. The most shocking intrusion of all comes when the prophet decrees that Kyra is to become the wife of her 60-year-old uncle. A secret patron of a local mobile library, Kyra knows there s a world away from the compound she might escape to, but first she pins her hopes on her father s ability to change the prophet s mind. Instead, her family is threatened, and the stakes for her refusal to marry are raised. The clandestine relationship Kyra is having with one of the compound s teenage boys is a romance more convenient than convincing (everyone is carefully watched except this duo, it seems). Contrivances notwithstanding, this is a heart pounder, and readers will be held, especially as the danger escalates. Williams portrayals of the family are sharp, but what s most interesting about this book is how the yearnings and fears of a character so far from what most YAs know will still seem familiar and close. Copyright 2009 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2009 #3
Thirteen-year-old Kyra is one of the Chosen Ones. She was raised to be obedient to her father, her many mothers, the community Apostles, and above all God's will as interpreted by Prophet Childs. But when the Prophet tells Kyra that God has decided she must wed her sixty-year-old uncle, she begins to imagine a life outside the confines of her secluded community. The immediacy of Kyra's first-person perspective heightens her story's emotional impact and will help readers gain insight into her struggles. "My nose is stopped up. My heart is broken. How did I wind up here? How did we all wind up here?" Kyra vacillates between lamenting her sins (she shares secret kisses with Joshua, the boy she would choose to marry if she could; she reads forbidden books, novels like Homecoming and The Borrowers) and planning a way to escape her forced marriage. Kyra knows that her rebellion could cost her family everything; she endures heartache, violence, and dashed hopes with the strength of a child who has been forced to become an adult too quickly. Within a fast-moving story, Williams creates sympathetic characters, and readers will hold their breath right to the end, hoping that Kyra wins her freedom. Copyright 2009 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2009 April #1
Intensely gripping and grippingly intense, the story begins with a gasp when Prophet Childs, the leader of a sect called The Chosen Ones, comes to visit the almost-14-year-old Kyra Leigh Carlson and her family to impart the "joyous news" that she's to become the seventh wife of her father's brother, a much older church apostle. Kyra, who lives with her father, three mothers and 21 brothers and sisters in a closely guarded, hyper-religious, polygamous compound, is horrified. The prohibited books she surreptitiously reads have opened her eyes to the wider world, and she has been hoping to marry a young sect member who's been secretly courting her. The forced marriage brings with it more than a whiff of child rape, though Williams unnecessarily pushes every button by also depicting the church hierarchy as murderers who use their religiosity to sadistically control and humiliate their parishioners. Nonetheless, Kyra's terrible dilemma--escaping her fate means betraying her family--is heartbreakingly real, and the final scenes are riveting and suspenseful. (Fiction. 12 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2009 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2009 May #4
Williams strikes just the right balance between informative and cautionary in this gripping tale about a 13-year-old girl trapped in a polygamist cult. At first, Kyra's struggles center around her situation--a lack of privacy, too many mothers and the urge to experiment with various sins (reading books besides scripture, exploring outside the compound, kissing a boy). But when she's "chosen" to be the seventh wife of her brutish, 60-something uncle, Kyra's desperation to be somewhere (or someone) else escalates ("God has given you to me, Kyra Leigh," her uncle tells her. "You will do what He says. What the Prophet says. What I say"). Is she brave enough to run away from the community that has sheltered her since birth? Although the ending verges on the sensational, Williams (Pretty Like Us) takes such care in crafting Kyra's internal struggles--and her hellacious story--that the ensuing drama rings true. Williams's highlighting all aspects of cult membership (fear of leaving, desire to belong, guilt about sinning), rather than relying on one-sided generalizations (cults are bad), makes this a prudent and powerful read. Ages 12-up. (May) [Page 58]. Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal Reviews 2009 July
Gr 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 [Page 96]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
VOYA Reviews 2009 June
Kyra has been Chosen. Prophet Childs received a vision: she is to be the seventh wife of Apostle Hyrum. Kyra is thirteen; her uncle Hyrum is in his sixties. They live on a desert compound, miles from town. Ever since Prophet Childs led the New Cleansing seven years earlier, books have been outlawed, medicine and doctors banned, children harshly disciplined, and young girls saved for older men. Such is life in a polygamist sect, but Kyra has rebellious thoughts and often walks beyond the walls of the compound to feel free for a few minutes. Recently she met the local Bookmobile along the road and has been checking out one book at a time, concealing them under her dress. Reading and playing the piano are two of her favorite things. The other is Joshua, the boy who would Choose her if he could. Suddenly Kyra is faced with an impossible choice--run away and never see her family again or stay and be forced into an unbearable marriage. Kyra's family is loving and close; she adores her sisters and her parents are good to her, even her father's other two wives. The outside world is completely foreign, and if she runs, her family will be banished from the compound. They would lose everything This book is a highly emotional, terrifying read. It is not measured or objective. Physical abuse, fear, and even murder are constants. It is a girl-in-peril story, and as such, it is impossible to put down and holds tremendous teen appeal. Kyra's fate is uncertain until the very last page and the tension is almost unbearable. It is also a clear example of the power of books and reading.--Angela Carstensen 4Q 5P J S Copyright 2009 Voya Reviews.