Williams, Carol Lynch. 2009. THE CHOSEN ONE. New York: St. Martin’s. ISBN 9780312555115. [Suggested Grade Levels 7- 12]
Thirteen year old Kyra lives in an isolated polygamist community or cult. Her father has three wives and she has twenty brothers and sisters. For the most part, she accepts her life and does not question it, but she does make secret, forbidden trips to the bookmobile where she checks out forbidden books that she hides so that no one knows she reads them. She also meets with Joshua, the boy she wishes to “choose” and who wants to “choose” her. The leader of the community, though, has other plans for her and decrees that she must marry her 60-year-old Uncle Hyrum who already has six wives.
Joshua and Kyra rebel against the decision and are beaten. Joshua runs away and soon after Kyra determines that she also must escape. With the help of the bookmobile librarian, she chooses to leave in a harrowing and dangerous escape. Taken from the headlines, Williams tells a tale that is compelling and realistic. The family dynamics, the control by the Prophet and his “God Squad” which includes the local police, and the bravery of Kyra and Joshua make this a book that is difficult to put down.
This book is perfect for teen book clubs or literature circles and could prompt discussion about religion, cults, individual choice, and family loyalty. Use it to discuss the issue of freedom of choice in courtship and marriage. Compare Kyra’s choices with those of girls in cultures with arranged marriages.
Books dealing with religion and choices:
Hrdlitschka, Shelley. SISTER WIFE. ISBN 9781551439273
Rich, Naomi. ALIS. ISBN 9780670011254
Zarr, Sarah. ONCE WAS LOST. ISBN 9780316036047
By Janet Hilbun