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The Chosen One

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Overview

In a polygamous cult in the desert, Kyra, not yet fourteen, sees being chosen to be the seventh wife of her uncle as just punishment for having read books and kissed a boy, in violation of Prophet Childs' teachings, and is torn between facing her fate and running away from all that she knows and loves.

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The Chosen One

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Overview

In a polygamous cult in the desert, Kyra, not yet fourteen, sees being chosen to be the seventh wife of her uncle as just punishment for having read books and kissed a boy, in violation of Prophet Childs' teachings, and is torn between facing her fate and running away from all that she knows and loves.

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Editorial Reviews

Jessica Bruder
Williams…unveils life among the Chosen (a fictitious theocracy) with spare, evocative writing and an honest sense of character that helps bridge the rift between Kyra's world and ours.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

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)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
VOYA - Serena Eggers
The Chosen One is a gripping story told in the simple language of the thirteen-year-old narrator. With its powerful writing, the book expresses Kyra's anger, terror, and great strength as well as the conflict between her love for her family and her desire for freedom. Although most teenagers cannot relate directly to Kyra's plight, her emotions are so strong and universal that teenage readers will find the book thrilling and hard to forget. Reviewer: Serena Eggers, Teen Reviewer
VOYA - Angela Carstensen
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. Reviewer: Angela Carstensen
School Library Journal
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
Kirkus Reviews
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)
From the Publisher
"[Lamia's] powerful performance of THE CHOSEN ONE brings its 13-year-old protagonist to vivid life." - AudioFile

“With dramatic pauses and emotive voice, Jenna Lamia delivers a captivating read, making the listener yearn for more.” - Parents' Choice Awards, Parents' Choice 2009 Recommended Award Winner

"Narrator Jenna Lamia brings passion and dignity to Kyra, her sisters, and even the strict elders who want all the girls for themselves...Lamia's voices sounds believably young and brings surprising gravity to this ripped-from-the-headlines story." - AudioFile

 

"Jenna Lamia strikes just the right note between innocence and a growing sense of rebellion in her characterization of Kyra..."—Kirkus Reviews

 

"Narrator Jenna Lamia's searing, poignant performance will stay with listeners long after the book ends as she draws listeners in and never lets go, making them feel as if Kyra is living with them as they hear her story...Outstanding." - Sound Commentary

 

"From the opening of The Chosen One, the audiobook for which she won her recent Audie, listeners will identify with Jenna's well-rounded portrayal of the protagonist, Kyra, a young woman trapped in a cult." - AudioFile

 

"Jenna Lamia...does a pitch-perfect version of Kyra."—Kidlit.com

 

"Jenna Lamia's vocal interpretation pitches just the right tone for a dutiful but independent 13-year-old chafing against the rules that allow her no privacy –  a conflict any teenager can understand." - Newsday

 

"The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams captivated me frm the moment I started listening to it. If you have tweens or teens in your house, the audiobook would be a perfect way to while away a few hours on a roadtrip, or to enjoy as a family in the evenings as an alternative to the boob tube." - 5minutesforbooks.com

 

"The reading of the unabridged audiobook by Jenna Lamia is dramatically right." – Metapsychology

 

"Jenna Lamia brings the perfect tone and emotions to thirteen-year-old Kyra and enables the listeners to hear her adness, anger, and love for her family." - Forever a Young Adult

 

Advance praise for the book:

 

“…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.” —Booklist

 

The Chosen One makes the heart race, the teeth grind, and the brow bead up in sweat. Carol Lynch Williams presents a first-person narrative that gallops just behind—or perhaps in advance of—contemporary headlines about the manipulation of the innocent. I could choose no other book or newspaper until I had finished the final page." —Gregory Maguire, the New York Times bestselling author of Wicked and A Lion Among Men

 

"A powerful and heartbreaking novel of love and hope.  One girl's poignant journey as she struggles to find herself and, ultimately, the truth." —Meg Cabot, New York Times bestselling author of The Princess Diaries and Airhead

 

The Chosen One is absolutely riveting and perfectly formed.  I had planned to read just a few pages one evening before bed, and I ended up staying awake until four in the morning to finish it!  It’s a wonderful book.” —Cynthia Kadohata, winner of the 2005 Newbery Medal for Kira-Kira

 

“In this extraordinary story, Carol Lynch Williams probes the deepest wells of the heart.  Against the intertwining prism of faith and love she gives us Kyra, a young woman who meets head-on the power of both to simultaneously buoy and corrupt the human spirit.  The Chosen One is brave, its plumb is true, it's a masterpiece." —Kathi Appelt, author of The Underneath, Finalist for the 2008 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature

 

"Carol Lynch Williams’ chilling novel of life in a polygamous sect is both harrowing in its unsparing realism and hopeful in its reaffirmation of the power that books and reading have to change and redeem lives at risk. An important book, sure to provoke spirited discussion." —Michael Cart, Booklist columnist and former president, Young Adult Library Services Association

 

“Powerful and unforgettable, The Chosen One will break your heart because its story is all too real.” —David Ebershoff, the New York Times bestselling author of The 19th Wife

 

“Truly thought provoking, heartfelt and just a plain old good read about a culture and religion that we know very little about these days except through the media.” —An Na, author of A Step From Heaven, winner of the 2002 Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature

 

“An unsettling and courageous story about one girl who sacrifices everything familiar in her search for freedom—physical freedom and, more importantly, freedom of the heart and mind. Though the book is chilling from page one, Carol Lynch Williams' economic and poetic use of language makes this potentially sensational story somehow beautiful, compassionate, and full of hope in the midst of tremendous loss. This is not a black and white exposé of cults, but a complex exploration of the ties that bind us to places and people that hurt us, the wrenching decisions we sometimes must make in order to survive, and the saving power of the truth, no matter how difficult it may be to bear.” —Sara Zarr, author of the 2007 National Book Award Finalist Story of a Girl

“A timely story . . . A poetic, penetrating, heart-wrenching, and ultimately inspiring read.” —Cynthia Leitich Smith, author of Tantalize and Eternal

“Skilled writing, a narrator you root for, and [a] compelling glimpse into a secret world.” —Deb Caletti, author of the National Book Award finalist Honey, Baby, Sweetheart

“An absolute page-turner.” —Elizabeth Bird, A Fuse #8 Production (School Library Journal blog)

“Imagine Anna Quindlen or Sue Miller turning her attention to writing a young adult novel. . . . Be forewarned: This book is a compulsive read.” —Audrey Couloumbis, author of the Newbery Honor Book Getting Near to Baby

“No doubt about it, THE CHOSEN ONE is one of the best books of the year! I couldn't put it down. Carol Lynch Williams grabs you with her literary talents and never lets you go. Kyra still haunts me. I'll be talking about this book in workshops all year long.” —M. Jerry Weis, Distinguished Service Professor, New Jersey City University, and past president of ALAN

“Kyra reminds me of my high school classmate in Utah who married her sister’s husband and descended into a netherworld of poverty, abuse, and humiliation.  Carol Lynch Williams’ remarkable story of Kyra’s fight to free herself from a culture that degrades and dehumanizes women is really a story of the triumph of the human spirit.  This book matters!” —Sandra Dallas, author of Prayers for Sale

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312555115
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 5/12/2009
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 1,311,646
  • Age range: 13 - 17 Years
  • Lexile: HL480L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Carol Lynch Williams is the author of young adult novels including Miles from Ordinary. The Chosen One was named one of 2010 ALA's "Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers" and "Best Books for Young Adult Readers." It also won the Whitney and the Association of Mormon Letters awards for the best young adult fiction of the year, as well as numerous other honors. Williams was the winner of the 2009 PEN/Phyllis Naylor Working Writer Fellowship. She grew up in Florida and now lives in Utah.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

"If I was going to kill the Prophet," I say, not even keeping my voice low, "I’d do it in Africa."

I look into Mariah’s light green eyes.

She stares back at me and smiles, like she knows what I mean and agrees. Like she’s saying, "Go on, Kyra. Tell me more."

I kick the toe of my sneaker into the desert sand. Even this late in the evening, with the sun sinking over my shoulder, the ground is leftover hot from the day. I can feel the heat through the soles of my shoes. Feel the heat coming up from the ground, through my tights, right under the skirt of my past-the-knees dress. There isn’t even a bit of a breeze.

"I’m not sure how I’d kill him. Yet." I pause so Mariah can see I am dead serious. Then I take in a big breath of air and plow ahead. "But once he’s gone, I’d drag his body right next to a termite nest. Not a thing would be left of him in three hours. There’re termites in Africa that can do that. No one would ever know what happened."

Again I pause. I look off toward the setting sun that has changed the desert from orange to deep red. Not quite the color of blood, but close enough. Overhead, stars start to fill the eastern sky. Just bits of light. I shrug.

"All of him would be gone. Every speck. No evidence left."

Mariah smiles at me again and lets out a bit of baby laughter. I shift her from one hip to the other, then lean close, smelling powder and, from the desert around me, sage. I touch my lips to her face so soft and smooth. Eight months old, this baby, my youngest sister, is as sweet as new butter. And just as fat. I love her.

Oh. I love her.

"I’d kill him first for me," I say into her cheek, my lips still resting there, my eyes closed. "And then I’d kill him for you. Then I’d kill him for the rest of our sisters. And our mothers. And the other women here . . ."

"Kyra."

I jump.

Mother Claire’s voice carries out over the sand and rock and brush that make up this part of our land surrounding the Compound. The sound is so clear and sharp and near, I worry maybe she’s heard me.

"Kyra," Mother Claire calls again. She stands on the porch to her trailer, the light of her place spilling out around her. Her hands are on her hips. "I see you out there. Come inside. You know we have company coming in a few minutes. Get in here now."

"Coming," I say, but not loud at all.

Mother Claire is the mean one. She’s Mariah’s mother, my father’s first wife. My true mother, Mother Sarah, is sick in bed with pregnancy. She would stand up to this wife, at least for me. She has before. But she can’t right now because she’s not well.

Mariah lets out a gurgle. In the lingering light I can see that she’s sleepy. Sleepy from my swaying and the heat and my voice, maybe. She puts her head on my shoulder and lets out a big yawn.

"Lucky girl," I say. "You might sleep through this to night."

AFTER I HELP Mother Sarah get the younger girls ready for our visitors, I check on her. She’s stretched out on the sofa, her face white, her belly six- months big.

"Mother," I say. I pet her long blond hair. "Can I go outside? Just a few minutes? Everything’s done."

What I’d like to do is play the piano, bring Mozart to life for the time we have until Prophet Childs shows. But the Fellowship Hall is closed now.

Mother looks at me with eyes blue as the evening sky. "What are you going to do, Kyra?" she says.

I shrug. "Just spend a minute alone."

Mother Sarah moves up on her elbow, cocks her head like she’s listening. In their room I can hear my youngest two sisters playing with their baby dolls. Laura, who is just a year younger than me, writes at the dining- room table. She’s filling her journal.

"We have nearly an hour before the Prophet comes by," Laura says. "Not that I was listening to your private conversation." Laura grins at me. Our trailer is so small we can hear one another’s thoughts.

"I’ll be back when you call," I say, and my mother nods, then sinks onto the sofa and closes her eyes.

I MAKE MY WAY out to the Russian Olive trees that line the back of the Compound.

We’re lucky. Our trailer is closest to these trees and I love them. I love the way they smell sweet in the spring, and I love the silverish- green color of their leaves. I love that, in summer, the leaves are thick and can hide me. I love that I can be alone here. I’ve cut off the pokey thorns from all the lower branches on one tree.

When I did that, Mother said, "Kyra Leigh Carlson! Why in the world did you use my best Cutco knives to trim a tree? You’re old enough to know better than that."

"Healthier than getting stabbed," I had said. And she clucked her tongue like a hen in the chicken coop.

What I couldn’t say was, "I needed a place to breathe by myself, that’s why I did it." I couldn’t say, "Mother, I am almost fourteen and I haven’t had one minute alone except when I’m sitting on the toilet and even then Carolina tries to get in with me and I have to hold the door shut with my foot ’cause the lock’s been broken I don’t know how long." I couldn’t say, "Some days I need to be alone." Instead, I just shrugged.

I climb up into the leaves now and settle onto my highest branch. My dress tugs at my knees till I loosen it some.

"Thank you, Jesus," I say. And I mean those words, I do.

This visit from the Prophet has excited the family. Everyone is thrilled he’s coming.

"No one’s mixed up," I say. "No one but me."

There’s not a mother or child in my family that doesn’t honor the Prophet.

"I do, too," I say. "Sometimes."

But life is changing for me. I’m learning new things. I’m "getting out," I say into the eve ning air. I’m sure I’m the only Chosen One who has wished the Prophet dead and his body picked away by termites.

I look past the crisscrossy branches of the Rus sian Olive toward our settlement. I can see most everything here, if I part the leaves. The lawns of the Prophet and Apostles, the store, the Temple and the Fellowship Hall where we meet for school and Wednesday eve ning activities. I see it all. And nobody can see me.

"Mmm," I say, breathing deep and closing my eyes. It smells so good to be by myself here.

After a moment of resting, I open my eyes and look toward my own home, seeing some of it in my head ’cause it’s too dark to make out all the details: the sparse grass and red desert dirt; the shadows of my two youngest sisters in their bedroom window. From where I sit I can see the three of Father’s trailers where all my mothers live. Some nights when I sit here I can pick Father out just from his shape in front of a curtain and I know who he’s staying with for that week.

This spot in this tree is mine alone. I’ve very nearly rubbed a bottom- shaped mark on this limb I’ve been up here so many times. And I’ve not shared my hiding place with anyone. Not even with Laura, my closest sister. This is where I can think without a baby to pat or a sick person to tend or a worry to bother. It’s where I can plan and dream and hope.

"I love being here," I say. "I love being able to see it all and having no one see me."

A breeze rushes over the desert, rustling the leaves. It’s like the tree wants me here, even though I did attack it with the Cutco.

The Temple shines like a beacon. At the Prophet’s house (that place takes up more space than a whole line of trailers), lights glow at the windows. I can see some people moving there. The moon slips from behind the mountains, drowning out some of the stars.

I sit for a while, doing nothing but wondering at being alone like this, wondering at the Prophet’s visit, until Mother Sarah calls my name out in a weary cry, "Kyra Leigh, come on in. We’re going over to Mother Claire’s place now."

"I’ll be back," I tell the tree, and the leaves rustle again with the wind.

I HEAR THEIR VOICES as I get closer. I can hear the kids as they hurry to meet at Mother Claire’s trailer. They laugh, someone whines, a young child cries out. Maybe one of the twins? I hurry to meet them.

Here are my brothers and sisters.

Here are my father’s children.

Adam, 17.

Finn, 16.

Emily, 15.

Nathaniel, 15.

Me, almost 14.

Jackson, 13.

Robert, 13.

Laura, 12.

Thomas, 11.

Margaret, 10.

Candice, 10.

Abe, 9.

April, 8.

Christian, 6.

Meadow, 5.

Marie and Ruth, 4.

Carolina, 3.

Trevor, 2.

Foster, 1.

Mariah, 8 months.

And two more babies on the way.

WE WAIT.

All of us together. Father, all the Mothers, all of the children. We girls are dressed in our Sunday best. My brothers are dressed in church clothes, too. Their ties on, some of them crooked. My hair’s braided so tight I feel a headache coming on.

"Isn’t this exciting?" Mother Victoria says. "The Prophet and his Apostles coming here."

Father smiles. He pulls Trevor and Foster onto his lap and smiles.

"Maybe," Mother says, her words spilling out with hope, "maybe you have been Chosen."

Her voice is low, but it’s like all twenty- four of us have heard her. Even Mariah grows quiet. We look at Mother Sarah and then at Father. Now he smiles so big it looks like his face might crack wide- open.

"Hyrum says my name’s been mentioned," Father says. His cheeks have turned pink. We stare at him. "They’ve talked of us all in meetings."

The timer on the stove goes off and Mother Claire hurries to the oven, the heels of her shoes tapping on the linoleum. From where I sit, I can see her; the kitchen, dining room, and living room are all one place in this trailer. She pulls cookies from the oven.

Mother Victoria clasps her hands under her chin. "They’ve been talking of us? Are you serious, Richard?"

"That’s what Hyrum says." Father squeezes a hug around the boys in his lap and one laughs. "He talked to me yesterday. Told me we’d get the visit."

"And he was right," Mother Claire says from the kitchen. She almost smiles.

All the sudden, I’m excited, too. Anyone can see that the Prophet and Apostles are blessed. They have real homes. They have nice cars. Maybe . . . my heart thuds with the thought... maybe things are changing for us. Maybe I was harsh to wish the Prophet dead.

"I’ve been faithful," Father says. He looks around the room at his family. He smiles still. "I’ve been a faithful disciple."

I am warmed to the teeth at my father’s smile.

My good father.

I rememer sitting on my father’s lap. So small, so cute (I’ve seen the pictures that prove it). My hair was that whitish blondish color. The color that Carolina’s is now.

I wore a dress of pale blue with pink trim. And fed Father strawberries one at a time. I snuggled my head into his neck. And he laughed and kissed my face and told me how much he loved me, his Kyra.

"Kyra, Kyra Leigh, Leigh, Leigh," he sang.

"Kyra, Kyra Leigh, Leigh, Leigh," I sang back. "Kyra Kyra me, me, me."

And Father sang, "Kyra Kyra you, you, you

."

I LOOK OUT the window that faces east, out over the desert. The sky’s almost black now.

Mother Sarah sits near Father, leaning against him. He pats her hand, pats my brothers in his lap. Mother Victoria keeps all the smallest children quiet by telling a story of Jesus. Mother Claire wipes down an already- clean kitchen.

Adam, my oldest brother, looks over at me like he wants to say something. Emily, who is not right in her mind and who would be the oldest sister if she were sound, wanders around the room. She touches each of us, squished in tight together, on the head. "Duck, duck, duck," but no "goose" because there is no running or playing. We’re waiting for the Prophet.

We are waiting for God’s Anointed.

While I watch my mothers, while I gaze at my father pink- cheeked with hope, while I listen to my siblings all around me, I am struck to the center with worry. I squeeze my eyes shut. Can Adam read my mind? Is that why he looked at me that way?

I’ve doomed the family. I know it right that second. It feels like someone has dumped ice all over me. It feels I am right- at- that- moment covered with snow.

My father is pure. My mothers. My brothers and sisters. Emily for sure.

But me.

Me!

I’ve planned to kill someone. No! not someone! I’ve planned the death of the Prophet. God’s Anointed. God’s Chosen.

And there’s more. So much more.

Without thinking, I stand. I’ve got to get out of here. I’ve got to run. Get to my secret place so I can be alone. Get away. Maybe make them safe from my unclean thoughts. From the things I’ve done.

"Duck, duck, duck," Emily says. She reaches for my head.

"Sit, Kyra," Mother Claire says. She’s by the sink, ringing out the washcloth. "We’re waiting for God’s Chosen."

"I have to go," I say. Now Nathaniel and Laura stare at me. "I forgot something."

"Kyra," Father says, "what ever it is can wait."

"No, Father," I say. I can feel my face turning red. My sins on my cheeks. There for everyone to see. "I need to leave for now. You can tell me what happens. Prophet Childs won’t notice I’m not here."

"Kyra," Mother says. "Sit. Please."

And Mother Victoria, all full of gasps, says, "He notices everything. He sees everything. He’d know if you weren’t with us."

"Kyra Leigh," Mother says again and her voice is soft in this room full of my family. "Be obedient to your father."

"Yes, ma’am," I say, and flop back onto the sofa. Then, under my breath, where not even the closest sibling can hear me, I whisper, "God in Heaven, forgive me. Forgive me. Forgive me." It becomes my chant.

I cannot curse this family.

Okay. It’s not just the planning to kill Prophet Childs. There’s more. There’s lots more.

Squished between my sisters I try not to think of my sins but they are all in me. I know they are there.

First, there are the books.

Finding the library was an accident.

Prophet Childs would never let one of us check out books from a public library.

"We have our beliefs," he’s said. "We have our God- given freedoms. And no one is going to take that away by brainwashing us with Satan’s teachings."

Past the edge of the Compound. Past the fences. Past the river. Off our land, headed away. That’s where I was, looking off to the north and Florentin. I remember the day clear.

August 13. A late Wednesday afternoon. Hotter than fire.

So hot the spit dried up in my mouth. So hot that when I stared at the empty road my eyes felt like they dried up, too. My work at home with my mother and with the other mothers was done—at least for a while—the quilting and helping with the laundry and working on dinner and even piano time.

So I stood there, just stood there, and then I heard something coming down the road behind me, the road that eventually runs in front of our Compound.

And here comes the Ironton County Mobile Library on Wheels, rolling along, headed toward Florentin. Kicking up red dust behind it.

Why, as it got closer, a shiver went right down my arms even though it had to be a million degrees standing out there in the desert sun. The library on wheels went clunking past, coming from the south, and the man driving, clean- shaven face, ball cap pulled down low on his forehead, he nodded at me.

My heart just about leapt through the bones of my chest.

I gave the driver a look, squint- eyed because of the sun and his nod. Who did he think he was, nodding at me like that? I stared him right in the eye, even though the Prophet would have said it was a sin to look a Gentile in the face.

But seeing that van—that nodding driver—did something to me. I don’t know what. Or why.

The next day, same time, I went there again. Rushing through chores and piano practice and helping the mothers. Past the Compound. Past the fences. Past the river. Off our land. A good long ways away. I waited and waited. No truck.

So the next day and the next and the next, until a week had passed, and here comes the truck, rolling along again. Wednesday afternoon. Same man driving. He nodded. Again.

My heart thumped. I squinted. Looked him dead in the eye.

Third week he stopped.

Dust billowed up around us. I could taste the dirt. Crunched sand.

He rolled down the window. "You want a library card," he said, adjusting the ball cap he wore. It wasn’t even a question.

And I nodded, like he’d done to me these past weeks.

"You can take four books out at a time," he said when I inched my way into the truck, cooled by fans and air conditioning.

I’d never seen so many books. Never. The sight made my eyes water. I mean, tear right up.

"Four?" I said. There was that sand on my tongue, gritting between my back teeth.

"Four."

I eyed the man. Eyed the books. Stood still, my heart thumping.

"Maybe just one," I said.

"You could start with this," he said and handed me something from a basket near his feet. "A girl just your age turned it in on my last stop. She said she loved it. I loved it myself."

His last stop? Another girl? He’d read this book? I took the novel from him and glanced at the cover. Bridge to Terabithia. I was there just a minute and I only took the one. One, I knew, would be easier to hide.

But oh, how my life changed with his stopping. My life changed when I started reading. I was different with these sinful words.

Who was this Katherine Paterson? Who was this Jesse and Leslie? People the writer knew? I could hardly read this book fast enough.

And when I did when I got to the end when I got to the end and Leslie died and Jesse was left alone without his best friend I cried so hard that coming in from my hiding place, my

tree, the book stashed in the branches, high in the prickles, Mother Victoria said, "Where have you been, Kyra? I needed help making bread." Then she looked at my face and said, her voice all worried, "Honey, what happened?"

I couldn’t tell her a thing. Not about Leslie or May Belle or Jesse all alone. I couldn’t tell Mother Victoria a thing about drowning or running or painting.

Instead, I threw my arms around her waist and said, my head on her shoulder, crying my eyeballs out, "I love you so much, Mother Victoria."

Then I set out delivering bread to my other mothers and to Sister Allred, who just had a baby, half- crying the whole way.

MY SINS.

A plan. Books. And a boy.

There’s a boy.

Oh, I am carrying the weight of what I have done. But no one seems to notice.

Mariah reaches for me. I look the other way. I’m too nervous to hold Mariah, baby Mariah.

I grip Laura’s hand and try not to think of what I’ve done. Keep my prayer chant going.

Everyone whispers together, all dressed up on a Tuesday evening, hair smoothed with water or in braids.

Mariah, quiet, holds her hands to me still.

I get to my feet again.

"Kyra?" Father says.

Mother Sarah looks at me. "Are you feeling okay, honey?"

"I want to . . ." I stop mid- sentence. I want to what? Leave? Stay? Run? Hide? "I was thinking about playing the piano," I say. A big, fat lie. One more sin added to all that I carry.

Laura tugs on my hand and I sit down beside her again.

There are just a few places in the whole Compound with pianos.

Prophet Childs has a concert grand in his front room. I’ve seen it myself. Right through the plate- glass window. Pure white and shiny, that piano is. It has to be a concert grand. I bet a body could see her face in the shine of that thing. He lives in a brick house, so big it casts a long shadow on the lawn when the sun starts to set. The Apostles have houses and pianos, too. Not only does being an Apostle mean blessings from God, but blessings from the land, too. That’s what they’ve told us, and it seems that’s true.

There’re three pianos in the Temple, though I’ve only played the one in congregation room when Sister Georgia is ill. The final two pianos sit in the Fellowship Hall. One is an old Kawai. It’s my favorite.

It was there, on a Sunday morning after meetings that I wandered up to that piano and started playing Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. Just like that. Like I was born with the song stuck in my head. I was almost four.

"Listen to her," Mother Sarah said. She ran right up to me, swooped me close, and said, "Did you hear her playing that song?"

Sister Georgia, who taught music lessons outside the Compound a long time ago, before she felt she was called to be a part of The Chosen, teaches anyone who wants to learn. My mother didn’t even hesitate when I plunked out that first song ten years ago. She marched me right up to Sister Georgia and said, "My Kyra is musical. She needs teaching."

And I said, "I do."

Music carries me away. Has since I was little. I can feel notes under my skin. Feel music in my muscles. Sometimes I even dream in Mozart or Beethoven scores. In the dreams, people speak out black musical notes, not words. And I understand every bit of it, exactly what they’re saying, when I dream.

"NO PIANO NOW, Kyra," Father says. And right when he says that there’s a tap at the door.

"They’re here," Margaret says and Mother Sarah says, "Coming to see us," and sits up straighter. She is pale and in the light of the bare bulb hanging from the ceiling I can see her face is damp with sweat. She must feel awful.

Father sets Trevor and Foster on the floor and goes to the door. Quick, I pray one more time. "Please, dear Jesus. Please."

Everyone is silent.

The only sound is Father’s church shoes on the floor as he walks over to open the front door. The room has grown hot with our being together.

"Ow," Laura says.

"Sorry," I say, realizing that I’m squeezing her hand too hard. I let go.

Please, please, Jesus. I’ll believe. I’ll be good if you choose my father. I’ll never think of killing anyone again. I swear it. I can’t quite say anything about the reading and there’s no time to think anything more than Joshua’s name.

Father opens the door.

"Prophet Childs," he says. "Brother Fields. Brother Stephens. Welcome. Oh!" Father’s voice sounds full of smiles. "Hyrum, I didn’t see you back there. Come on in."

The four men move into the room. We offer our Prophet the comfortable chair and he takes it. Mother Victoria moves to the floor and sits near his feet. The other brethren, including my uncle, settle into the kitchen chairs.

"Brother Carlson," Prophet Childs says. He is thin as a tree, tall with eyes so dark they look black. His brown hair is slicked back from his forehead, the comb lines visible. He smiles at us all. Lifts his hands to us. "Look at this family. Look at your heritage to the Lord, Brother Carlson."

My father nods, beaming.

"Beautiful family," the Prophet says. "Your older boys are honorable young men." He nods. "The older girls are . . ." He stops. He’s looking at Emily. Our wonderful Emily. Right then I see her the way our Prophet must. I see her wide face, her slanted eyes, her smile that’s almost glowing. She looks at him with so much love I cannot understand how he cannot love her back. But I know he doesn’t. I’ve heard him say he doesn’t. I’ve heard him condemn her.

And I know what they do to those who are not whole.

"Sinners are sick. Sinners are not complete. Sinners do not please God and are cursed," he has said in meetings.

Some of the congregation cheers. Some sing, "Amen." Some are quiet. Our family is quiet.

"The unwhole won’t meet God," he says. "Those who are lacking here," tapping his head, "or here," tapping his eyes, "or here," tapping his heart, "do not qualify for the kingdom."

I know it happens. It’s all part of the New Cleansing and mothers don’t talk of it much. The New Cleansing is part of what’s quiet around here.

Sister Janie Abbott had two baby boys. Tiny things. Not more than a pound or two. One died after an hour. But the one like Emily, he lived awhile.

Prophet Childs went to their trailer. Sister Janie wasn’t but thirteen. A first wife to her husband just six years older. She cried for a long time when they said the unwhole shouldn’t live. She cried, hanging on to that baby as long as she could. But at last Prophet Childs had her talked out of that tiny thing.

They did away with him.

Not sure how, but I know they did. I listened in on Mother Victoria telling Mother Sarah and Mother Claire. She whispered the whole story to my mothers while I stood in the dark of the living room, quiet in the night so they might not notice me.

"They killed that unfit baby," Mother Victoria said. Her voice was full of something. Sorrow? I waited in the dark, not moving, my skin cold prickles from her words. "Thank God, thank God, the revelation came after Emily was born. This prophet’s father was nothing like he is."

"That’s right," Mother Sarah said.

And Mother Claire said, her voice low, too, "This is a new Prophet. A new leader. A new time. He’s not a thing like his father. Things were hard before. They’re harder now." There was silence and then, "God is mysterious."

Prophet Childs became prophet when his father died seven years back. The mantle was handed down to him. The line of authority going through the blood. That’s what Father says. There was a big funeral when Prophet Childs’s father passed.

But not even a tiny burial gathering for those two babies of Sister Janie’s.

I’ve seen her since, great big with child again, out in the cemetery, kneeling over those two small graves that Brother Abbott dug while she stood by, alone, and watched.

Now prophet child looks around the room at us. Mother Victoria wraps her arms about Emily, who says, "The Prophet. The Prophet. See him?" and lets out a laugh full of joy.

"Quiet the girl, Sister Victoria," Uncle Hyrum says. His eyebrows meet right over his nose with his unhappiness.

"Hush now, Emily," Mother Victoria says. She looks nervous, the way she glances at Uncle Hyrum and then at Brother Fields and Brother Stephens and last of all at the Prophet.

"Duck, duck, duck," Emily says.

"Shhh, shhh," Mother Victoria whispers. "Shhh for now, my sweet girl."

Emily goes quiet. But she looks me right in the eyes and grins full on. She gives me a thumbs- up sign, and if I weren’t so worried about everything, I would laugh. "Brother Carlson," Prophet Childs says to Father, at last. Father nods, hands clasped. His face is still pink, but there’s worry near his mouth. "I have joyous news." Laura, sitting so still beside me, takes in a breath of air.

Now she grabs my hand and squeezes.

"I’ve been in the belly of the Temple for some time. Thinking, praying"—he points his finger toward the lightbulb— "and talking with God. It has been revealed to me that your oldest daughter, Sister Kyra, is to wed Apostle Hyrum Carlson. She will be his seventh wife in the Lord."

The room goes dead quiet. Not one sound. I think, Father hasn’t been called after all. And then Prophet Childs’s words sink in, sink in, sink in.

Me? What? Me to be married? I think I have no blood. I think I have lost the ability to breathe.

"Is this not a joyous occasion?" Prophet Childs says, and Brother Stephen lets out a "Praise God from whom all blessings flow."

Uncle Hyrum looks right at me.

I feel my face burn.

"The ceremony is in four Sundays, after services," the

Prophet says. It’s at that moment I find my tongue. Before my mothers, before my father. Laura’s hand is squeezing me tight and I smell body odor. I think it’s me.

"What?" I say.

"In a light bright as the sun the revelation came," Prophet Childs says. He stares over our heads like he’s seeing things all over again. "The two of you at the stone altar, wearing the ceremonial dress, Brother Hyrum standing, you kneeling at his feet. I saw it all. I saw it all. You have been saved for him."

Uncle Hyrum nods. "I will treat you well, Sister Kyra," he says. "We will raise children unto the Lord."

"I can’t do that," I say, sick just- like- that to my stomach. I stand, Laura holding my hand so tight my fingers have gone purple. When I look into her face, I see her eyes have filled with tears. I glance at Mother Sarah. She sits up straight in her chair.

Father says, "Prophet Childs, I think there must be a misunderstanding. This man is my brother."

I shake free of Laura. Step over my brothers and sisters whose faces are pale and seem like floating balloons.

"Duck, duck, duck," Emily says.

Mariah lets out a bit of a cry. Does she feel what I feel? I turn and she reaches for me. But it’s like I look at a photograph, one that changes. I see her face collapse when I back away. See her little mouth open wide. Hear her start to cry.

Brother Fields reaches for me as I try to run, grabs the sleeve of my dress, but I slap his hand away and run out into the darkness. Mariah’s voice follows me.

"Wait," someone calls. Mother Claire? Then, "Hush, baby. You hush now."

How can this be? Is it for my sins? I have punished us all for my thoughts? For the books? And Joshua?

Just like that I’ll be marrying my father’s brother.

Just like that I’ll be marrying my own uncle.

MOTHER CLAIRE MARRIED FATHER when she was fourteen and he was seventeen.

Mother Victoria married Father when she was thirteen and he was nineteen.

Mother Sarah married Father when she was thirteen and he was twenty- one.

And now me. Me. Marrying my uncle who must be sixty, at least.

Saved for him?

Outside the sky has gone all dark except for the half-moon. All is quiet except Mariah’s wailing—a piercing cry that causes my heart to skip a beat. I almost turn back. The air is crisp, cool, though heat still rises from the desert. My uncle! I run from my family. At first, I start toward my tree. Then I think better of it.

"I don’t need a tree," I say into the dark. "I don’t."

So I turn around. I head back, past my trailer, past where my family meets with the Prophet and his Apostles and the old man I’m supposed to marry. My own uncle.

I trip on a line of bricks that Mother Victoria set up to surround a small flower garden and fall right into her petunias with an "Oof." The sweet smell makes me sick and I think I might puke. My hands and knees hurt from the fall, and my shinbone feels like a gouge of meat has been scooped out against a brick. For a moment I hesitate. I want to cry. To howl like Mariah, who is really worked up now. But I can hear the rumble of voices from the trailer one over. Can hear one of the men say, "She’ll learn her place," and another say, "God’s will."

I push to my feet, and hurry away, right to the biggest sin of my life. I go to Joshua’s place.

The first time I really noticed Joshua Johnson was seven months ago at school (Did the books make me notice? Did my disobedience make me see him?) when I was coming out of quilting bee and headed for home.

"Hey, Kyra," he said as we passed in the hall and he nodded at me like maybe he knew something I didn’t.

Oh my goodness, oh my goodness! My heart thumped. His eyes were so blue. Blue like the daytime sky. And he was using his eyes to look at me. Me!

Of course he’s using his eyes, I thought and looked at the floor then back at Joshua. "Hey to you, too," I said.

He grinned and I felt my face redden. I hurried out the door and toward home.

Joshua. Joshua Johnson. Blue- eyed Joshua Johnson.

"Oh my gosh," I said just as Laura came running up next to me.

"Where are you off to so fast?" she asked. "And ‘oh my gosh’ what?"

I swallowed at my jittery feelings, then leaned close to my sister. Her strawberry blond hair was pulled back into long braids. Her eyes, squinty whether she’s in bright light or not, looked hard at me.

"You’re embarrassed," she said.

Touching my face, I nodded.

"Why?"

"Because," I said, "Joshua Johnson said hello to me."

Laura stopped on the sidewalk that leads from the Fellowship Hall to where we all live. I could see the freckles sprinkled across her nose. "So?"

"So," I said, then I let the words rush out of my mouth. "He is so cute. So cute."

Laura stared at me a moment, then started toward home again. "You know you shouldn’t even let that thought in your mind."

I said nothing at first, bothered by my sister. She was right. I knew that. But still. "I can look, can’t I?"

Laura didn’t even glance my way. Just marched toward home. "No," she said. "No, you can’t look and you know it."

Again I was quiet, then I said, "You’re right, Laura."

She grinned at me, her squinty eyes growing sparkly. "Good then," she said.

But I thought about him anyway. All the way home.

The lights are on still at the Johnson trailer and so I wait. I wait until all the lights have switched off. I hide near their chicken coop, the smells so thick I could have hurled them at someone.

I hear when the Prophet and Uncle Hyrum walk past.

Hear someone slam a door shut and a coyote cry out and get an answer from someone’s dog.

I hear Mother Sarah, and then Father, call me in.

But I don’t move. I wait in the dark, the soft cluck of chickens near, to make sure everyone at the Johnson home is sleeping. Then, in the light of that moon that has turned the color of cream, I tap on his bedroom window.

ONE AFTERNOON, when the sun sat in the sky like a crown on the mountains, I asked Mother if I could go play the piano.

"Just at the Fellowship Hall," I said.

"Of course," she said.

I tucked a fat book of Beethoven under my arm and started away. If I hurried, there would be plenty of time to play. I breathed deep the desert air, happy for the golden light that ended the day. Happy for a moment to fall into my music. I hummed the beginning of a concerto. In my head I could see the notes of a cadenza that was giving me fits. A few minutes of that to start, I decided. Then a jump to the end, maybe fifteen minutes’ practice there. That would get my piece . "Hey, Kyra."

I started at the voice. "Aaah!" Then, "What?" And finally, "Sheesh almighty." Joshua Johnson walked up beside me. "Oh!" I said, and touched the front of my dress. "Oh," he said.

My face colored.

"That’s rude to mimic me like that," I said. I marched forward over the sidewalk, embarrassed. The smell of the desert kicked up from a slight breeze that blew in from the west.

Joshua laughed. "I’m sorry, Kyra," he said, hurrying beside me.

I refused to look at him. Instead, I kept my eyes forward and headed across the parking lot around the Temple, feeling a little angry but more horrified and even more pleased that Joshua had surprised me.

"Where you going?" he asked.

With my head, I gestured at the Fellowship Hall.

"Why? There’s no Youth Meeting to night."

I stopped, planted one hand on my hip the way Mother Claire does when she’s especially unhappy, and said, flapping the book at him, "To practice piano, if you must know." Oh, you are so so so cute, I thought. So cute! Ahhh!

Joshua nodded, then shaded his eyes against the setting sun. "Can I come along and listen?"

My heart thumped. He was so pretty to look at, with his brown hair all golden in the setting sun, I didn’t know what to do. The only boys I’d been around were my own brothers. And now here was Joshua Johnson.

"What do I care?" I said. But I did care. I did. There was Joshua with those warm- looking eyes of his and that cute face and Look how tall he is, I thought, way taller than me ,and he looks so good in that plaid shirt and those blue jeans.

Don’t look at those blue jeans.

You looked at his blue jeans.

I reached for the Fellowship Hall door, but Joshua caught it first and opened it for me. He motioned for me to go ahead.

I did with a flounce, but my foot caught on nothing and I stumbled forward.

Just get to the piano without falling and breaking a bone, I thought. Just make it to the piano.

I could hear some boys playing basketball in the gym, could hear the squeak of their tennis shoes on the floor and the echoey pounding of the ball.

"You look pretty today, Kyra," Joshua said. He opened another door for me and we stood in the near darkness of the Assembly Room.

I looked toward the piano. Just make it there, I thought. He is so cute. So cute.

"Want me to catch the lights?" he said.

"If you’d like," I said. I sat down at the piano, my legs shaking so I wasn’t sure I could work the pedals.

The fluorescent lights overhead flickered on and a low buzz filled the room.

Joshua pulled a seat up near the piano bench.

I flipped open Beethoven. Why, I was so nervous my eyes couldn’t make out even one note at first. My fingers trembled and for a moment I wasn’t sure if I could even feel them. It was like I was numb. I ran through scales once.

"That was good, Kyra," Joshua said. And then he grinned.

A little laugh slipped from me. "I’m just warming up."

"Play something," he said.

At first my fingers wouldn’t work. Then, as I played Beethoven, I almost forgot Joshua was sitting right there.

Almost.

Oh, all right. I snuck quick peeks at him the whole time we were together.

And every time, he was looking right back at me.

"You’re good," he said when I’d finished my practice. He nodded toward the piano.

"I know it," I said. I wasn’t being stuck up. That’s a sin, to think you’re better at something than another person. But the fact is, I know I’m better than any of The Chosen Ones so I wasn’t being a braggart.

Joshua raised his eyebrows. "And modest," he said.

I shrugged and my brain all on its own thought, I cannot believe someone like you is talking with me. You smell so good.

"It takes a lot of work to succeed at this," I said. "A lot of practice. And I want to be good." I waved my hand over the piano, then turned back to the score. Leaning in close to the music, I made marks on the page. Here, here, and here I needed more intensity. Here, I needed less dynamics.

"I want to learn." Joshua stood and moved right next to me. He hit the low E note. The sound thumped in the room.

"Sister Georgia teaches," I said, not even glancing at him, my heart thumping like that low note. "Talk to her. Tell your mother. I’m sure she has time for you."

"My mother?" Joshua asked.

"Of course your mother," I said. I was grinning now. "And Sister Georgia."

"But I want to learn from you," Joshua said. He stood behind me now. I could feel his knees in my back. Bony and warm.

Sun broke through the stained- glass window, coloring the air. I could smell the wood oil used to polish the piano. Could hear the boys playing basketball a room over, calling to one another.

His hand rested on my shoulder and my body was flooded with unexpected happiness.

"What?" I should run, run, get away from this sin. Get away. But the bigger part of me wanted to relax into Joshua.

"You’re good. You said so yourself. Think you could teach me?"

His hand. His knees. My confused state. I wanted to turn around and hug him. Where were these thoughts coming from?

"Maybe. Maybe, I can." I’m not sure how I got the words out. "I gotta go." I pushed the bench back and struggled to make my legs work. Joshua and I walked across the room. His hands were shoved in his pockets.

"Now, Kyra," he said. We were at the door getting ready to walk into what seemed to me the real world. "What will you charge for lessons?" His face was just a few inches from mine.

I couldn’t find my voice. Then I said, "I’m not sure. What do you think is fair?"

Our faces were so close I could feel his breath on my lips.

"I’ll figure it out," he said at last.

Excerpted from The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams.

Copyright © 2009 by Carol Lynch Williams.

Published in May 2009 by St. Martin’s Press.

All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.

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Reading Group Guide

Thirteen year-old Kyra has grown up in an isolated polygamous community without questioning her father’s multiple wives and her 20 brothers and sisters, with two more on the way. Or at least without questioning them much—if you don’t count her secret visits to the Ironton County Mobile Library on Wheels to read forbidden books, or her occasional meetings with Joshua, the boy she hopes to choose for herself instead of marrying a man who is chosen for her. But when the Prophet decrees that Kyra must marry her 60-year-old uncle, and her parents are powerless against him, Kyra must confront the increasingly violent lengths to which the Prophet and his followers are prepared to go to enforce his will over the entire community. 

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Customer Reviews

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 129 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 11, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Jaglvr for TeensReadToo.com

    WOW!

    That's the first word that came to mind as I turned the final page of THE CHOSEN ONE. I sat contemplating what I had just finished and had to process everything that Kyra had been through.

    Meet Kyra Carlson. She is the second daughter to one of her father's three wives. She has been brought up in the Chosen One compound. Life wasn't always so strict. But when Prophet Childs takes over the lead, he takes tighter control. A fence is placed around the grounds. Women can no longer leave as easily. Reading is forbidden. Women and children must be obedient.

    One night, Prophet Childs and three of his Apostles come knocking on Krya's trailer. The whole family is there for the visit. In stunned silence, Kyra hears the words that she has been Chosen. She is to become the seventh wife of her Uncle Hyrum.

    Kyra is only thirteen. Her older sister, Emily, isn't right in the head, so no one is surprised that Emily hasn't been chosen. But it is shocking to be so young and to then have to wed her own uncle. It's just wrong. Even Kyra's father is flabbergasted at the pronouncement. The wedding is to be in four weeks.

    Kyra is a rebel at the compound. She sneaks off to meet the weekly bookmobile on the main road. She keeps her library book hidden in the branches of a tree. She also secretly meets up with Joshua. He vows that if given the chance, he will choose Kyra for his wife.

    Once Kyra hears the news that she is to wed, she does all she can to convince her family not to make it happen. But everyone is scared of the society they live in and know that going against Prophet Childs' wishes will make life worse for her entire family.

    Kyra knows that marrying Uncle Hyrum is wrong. She doesn't accept the rules of the Chosen Ones. But she is torn. She knows she should run away before the wedding. But that will bring troubles to her family. How can she possibly leave her family? How can she possibly leave Joshua? Where would she go?

    THE CHOSEN ONE may not be for everyone. The story is powerful and will leave you feeling angry and disgusted. But it will also leave you amazed at the power of the human spirit and what can be overcome. The story is definitely controversial, and those with strong religious views will more than likely be deeply disturbed by the life that Kyra has been brought up in. But if you can get beyond the religious context, the story will leave you breathless as you cheer and pray for Kyra to do what must be done.

    Though Kyra is a thirteen-year-old girl, the subject matter of THE CHOSEN ONE may not be appropriate for younger readers. Though there is no actual sex within the story, the subject matter is quite obvious and referenced throughout the entire book.

    21 out of 21 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 27, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A Good Addiction Review

    Powerful, gutting, and twisted, The Chosen One is a no holds barred look into a polygamist community. This is one of the first books I've read in a good while that has really tangled my emotions, shifting the way I think of things. As someone not raised in such a society, my initial thoughts were disgust. With even the first introduction of not only Kyra's father's three wives but also the long list of children he's fathered between them, my own perceptions were narrowed and repulsed.

    As the book progresses, however, Williams does an astounding job casting Kyra's entire family into a sympathetic light. There is a very stark contrast between Richard, her father, and his brother Hyrum. While Richard takes a very loving route, even in discipline and keeping his wives and children obedient, Hyrum is very much on the tough love, physical side. Williams doesn't keep this cloaked, adding in a few wrenching scenes that really bring out this difference. Despite being a part of this community and having three wives, Richard is a great father and a kind man. He loves his wives and his children, and he is abiding by the rules and beliefs set forth by the same community he was raised in.

    Kyra is an uncommon character because of the community she was raised in, mature past her chronological age as a result. At thirteen, she's helped raise her full and half siblings, been raised to know she will one day be chosen and placed with a man as one of his wives, and is heavily relied on by her mothers. Though she has one older sister, Emily isn't mentally on the same level as the others, rendering Kyra as the oldest girl. The responsibilities because of it come off easily, creating a strong sense of the world she lives in. She is strong willed and determined but very calculating; perceptive and intelligent but still rash in some of her decisions.

    Her struggle with her devotion to her family and her unwillingness to be married to her sixty year old uncle is a poignant, captivating, and visceral one. The intense love she feels towards her father, her birth mother, and her siblings comes through as one of the most notable elements of the story. Marrying anyone, not just her uncle, means leaving her family. Though the girls are married off young in her community, there is still that childlike part of Kyra who wants to stay with her sister and best friend. She can't imagine being away from her mother, leaving everything she's known for years. Her responsibilities will be massively shifted, her entire world and daily routines altered to cater to her new husband.

    There is a bold mix of rebellious and obedient in Kyra, rooted in her family ties. Threats against her family hold potential to bind her, tie her down and resign her to the future she doesn't want. It is incredibly difficult to read her entire struggle, along with the reactions of her family. The community, as a whole, is a very different one, run by one person given power through birth. The Prophet Childs is the one to deem Kyra as the seventh wife of Hyrum, and he uses brute strength and violence throughout the community to force obedience.

    Many scenes in this book are brutal and rough to read, made harder by the general feelings most readers will have going into this book because of their own opinions and world views. It is very difficult to swallow and accept this way of life without ever having been immersed in it.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 11, 2011

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    A Real Page Turner!!

    Thirteen year old Kyra Leigh Carlson lives in the Compound, a chain link fence separating her from the rest of the world. Her father has three wives and she has twenty brothers and sisters; Laura is the sister she's closest to. Kyra likes a boy named, Joshua. She likes to read. And she likes to spend time alone in a Russian olive tree. She's at peace when she's high up in that tree - a hiding place she's never shared with anyone - and she finds a bit of freedom on the days she secretly visits the Ironton County Mobile Library on Wheels to borrow books she's forbidden to read. But she wants to escape the life she's being forced to live; especially after she finds out she's expected to marry her father's sixty year old brother. Will she be able to think of a way out? Kyra was a strong girl. She spoke up when adults wouldn't and that was a good thing, but she was so brainwashed that she blamed herself for things that weren't her fault. Poor sweet Kyra thought every little act would send her to hell because that was what she was taught by men who called themselves Apostles of the Lord. These men misinterpreted the Bible to suit their own way, controlling everyone around them. Women were belittled and treated as if their lives meant nothing, children were abused and people were killed. God's is love; I didn't see any. I shook my head with disbelief as I read this story and I was so disgusted by these old men who were making young girls their wives. They acted as if their rules and regulations were keeping Satan out of the compound but they were doing his work, so he was there. The Chosen One was a fast-paced, page-turner and I really enjoyed the author's writing style; parts of the story - when Kyra was speaking - were poetic.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 4, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    I was expecting more!

    I expected a full sized book. It's 105 pages, and though the writing is good, it's pretty blah. A lot of teenage complaining about boys and family, then some action. Then it suddenly gets good, and made me cry for about 10 pages. And then the ending came, and it was a horrible ending. Read it if you're looking for a quick light read but not if you want to learn anything about the FLDS culture, this is a watered down version.

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 10, 2011

    Amazing!

    Just finished readin this book, probaly the best book i have read! I usally dont like to read, but i saw the pink in the cover and it caught my eye. This book is so sad, but agaim happy. Happy ending and i was sad when i finished it. MUST READ!

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 7, 2010

    Must Have Reader!

    This book is one of my all time favorties. I would sit up for hours to read it. If you just put on your favorite tunes on soft and sit back in your chair and read this you will literally not be able to put this book down. The suspense never lets you down. There is always a surprise right around the corner. A truly shocking and heartwarming story. I found myself feeling the emotions of the character as if i was almost in the story too. All i have to say is GET IT!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 6, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    A MUST READ--LIKE GO GET IT NOW!!!

    This book was awesome. It was an emotional rollercoaster. I loved it. If you enjoy quality reading this book is for you. It really touched my heart--and hopefully it will do the same for you. Happy reading.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 21, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    To a Reveiwer

    this is to a reviewer who compared this book to LDS people because if she knew ANYthing about the LDS people she would have never said that, because they are nothing like that nor do they believe any thing to that degree! so i just thought that i woulds set the readers stright! so next time if you want to write something comparing it to another know what your talking about

    3 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 4, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A MUST READ

    deeply moving and heart wrenching. an AMAZING book. i would recomed it to everyone!

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 17, 2011

    good book

    This book was good exceppt i didnt expect it to end how it ended otherwise it would have been good.i cant believe they were making her marry her uncle that sixty something knowing she loved another guy READ IT to find out what really happens, its a heartbreaking story

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 31, 2010

    WOW GREAT BOOK!!!!!!!!!!!

    this book is amazing i couldnt put it down. the book was so good you just kept turning the pages. it made me cry, laugh, and broke my heart and put it back together again.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 13, 2010

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    I Also Recommend:

    On My Best Books List!

    This book is simply amazing! I've not read a book with such a plausible, realistic storyline and gripping characters for quite some time. The Chosen One tells the story of a 13-year-old girl who lives in an isolated place where the community practices polygamy. Kyra's love for books other than the Bible makes her feel sinful as the Prophet Childs says that those are the words of the devil.

    When the prophet proclaims that he has a vision from God, Kyra's life is about to change drastically, and her fate is sealed once and for all, because she has been "chosen" to marry her 60-year-old uncle, and to become his seventh wife in less than a month.

    Being a strong-willed and determined young girl, Kyra resists this marriage and thinks about the possibilities of getting a taste of freedom by trying to escape. Will she succeed in escaping the religious cult that has been controlling her ever since she was born?

    Kyra is a wonderful character and I really admire her courage and willpower. She is the perfect protagonist for The Chosen One. She has to make a difficult choice : to stay with her family and wed her abusive uncle, or pursue freedom with the possibility of facing a death sentence.

    This book brings up a few social issues which are worthy to be discussed about. First of all, there is this personal freedom issue. Doesn't everyone deserves the freedom of choosing whom to marry and how they should live their lives? It is extremely unfair for the girls in Kyra's community to be coerced to marry old men and become "baby-making machines". Any girl who tries to defy a marriage instructed by the Prophet will be mercilessly beaten up or killed with a rifle gun.

    Each of us know that religions are meant to teach us to be good and virtuous. However, in this story, Prophet Childs uses his authority and social rank to rule over The Chosen Ones. He feeds himself with power by making others' lives hard in God's name. He always ends every word of his own by saying, " This is God's will."

    Another thing is, the people in the community has little knowledge of what is happening around them as Prophet Childs has already banned all kinds of reading materials except the Bible. I believe this enables the prophet to remain in control of the whole society effortlessly and maintain his holiness. How can one who seeks power, money and fame by exploiting God's name be a prophet?

    Kyra's heartbreaking account made me sad, angry and sympathetic at the same time. I cried for her tragic experiences and personal loss. My heart was literary in my throat when Kyra is hunted down by the God Squad. I'm in awe by her extraordinary valor and inner strength.

    In a few words, The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams is a remarkable, thought-provoking and gripping novel. No one should ever miss this book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 23, 2010

    Such a Good Story

    I started this book and finished it the next night...I was just drawn into the plot so quickly that the only thing that stopped me from reading it straight through is having to go to work, and I left the book at the house on purpose.
    This is a story about a young girl in a polygamist group called The Chosen Ones, and she has been chosen to marry her Uncle, which she finds horrible and so does her Father. She is also a little on the wild side for the community, she sneaks out to read books and she has dreams of marrying someone she chooses. This is a very moving story about her struggle against the community and how she tries to break free and live. I think I cried for the last 20 pages of this book, it was so good. This is something that I could see myself buying for my friends and passing on to others to read.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 14, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    The Chosen One

    What a scary, freaky, chilling book! The Chosen One scared me down to my bones! It was totally freaky and messed up! And I loved every single part of it! The main character Kyra is 13 yet she is very mature and about to be married off to her Uncle. She is more mature then most of us out there. She has 3 mothers and 20 siblings. The Prophet tells her she has been chosen for her uncle. To resist the Prophet is to die and have everyone around you punished. Can Kyra run away and take a chance?

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 13, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Courtesy of Mother Daughter Book Club.com

    Kyra is a normal teen in many ways. She likes to read, she helps out with her family, and she has a crush on a boy who lives just down the street. Unlike most teens, Kyra lives in a polygamous sect where she is forbidden to read books from outside the compound, she has three mothers and many siblings, and she has just been informed that she will become the seventh wife of her 60-year-old uncle.

    Only thirteen years old, Kyra must decide if she will defy the Prophet and go against everything she has grown up to believe, or if she will take her place in her society where personal choice is frowned upon and the Prophet rules the lives of all his followers.

    The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams provides a fascinating glimpse into life inside a secretive society that keeps its members under control in part by limiting their knowledge of the outside world. From Kyra's perspective we see the unwelcome aspects of this community, which include unquestioning adherence to a Prophet you suspect is motivated more by earthly concerns than heavenly ones. But we also see the benefits to be had by living in a close community with many adults and children around to provide love and support.

    Kyra questions the decision made for her in part because she has been secretly and quietly rebelling all along. She wanders outside the compound frequently, and she regularly visits a mobile library she discovered parked by the side of the road on one of her wandering days. Reading has opened her mind to the possibility of living in a world very different from her own, but can she live in a world that does not include everyone she loves? And like most girls her age, she does love her father and mothers, who are ineffectual at resisting the Prophet's will.

    The Chosen One will keep you turning pages as you follow Kyra through her dilemma into a surprising ending. I recommend it for mother-daughter book clubs with girls in high school.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 21, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    This book is hard for me to review, but considering it was diffi

    This book is hard for me to review, but considering it was difficult to read (emotionally, the writing was nice and simple prose) I'm not surprised by this. I'm sure it wasn't the easy book to write.

    This is the first book I've read from Williams, so I didn't know what to expect. I was not disappointed. The storyline is nicely done. While the ending does leave you with questions, it doesn't take away from the overall story.

    The Chosen One is a powerful little book. The story will leave you sad, angry, and disgusted. The things that Kyra and all of the other Chosen Ones have had to endure are unimaginable. It will also give you hope, though. Hope that people can overcome the wrongs that have been done to them.

    Rating

    3.5/5

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 8, 2012

    A

    Im giving it three stars because the ending had to many loose ends. It just left to many things open for me. Other than that it was an excellent read. It will make you cry or atleast think bout crying. The author really catches the internal turmoil people who have been indoctrinated by fear and guilt.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 29, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Surprisingly Good

    I checked this book out in my school library and read it in two hours- I could not put it down! That is the one negative thing about this book= it is very short so it will definitely not take most people more than a day or two to read. It is exciting and addicting. It willl have you on the edge of your seat desperate for Kyra's escape the entire time. Kyra's life in this polygamist cult seems entirely wrong at first. However, one of the things I liked about this book is that as you see how much she loves her family and how her father is a truly good man, Kyra's conflict becomes more and more realistic and difficult. Definitely read this book- it won't take you long and it is very powerful.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 9, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Amazing!

    This book was amazing! Williams took on (and conquered) the daunting task of putting a sympathetic face on the sometimes reprehensible (certainly in this book) practice of polygamy. And she does this in a YA novel, to boot. So, Kyra is born within a polygamous sect, but has dreams of the outside world thanks to the Mobile Library on Wheels that gives her a tenuous connection to another lifestyle.

    When her dirty-old-man-uncle comes a-calling for her thirteen-year-old hand, she knows she needs to find a way out. This isn't Big Love we're talking about here people, or Sister Wives. This tale is more like a storyline you would see with the were-panthers of True Blood.

    The Prophet (the group's leader) has slowly eroded away the colony's freedoms (like reading any book but the Bible) and has a standing, armed God Squad to keep people in line. Murder happens just often enough to keep everyone towing the line for God.

    What I found immensely compelling about The Chosen One wasn't the big developments, but the small moments. I wanted Kyra to hightail it out of there ASAP, but I slowly understood why she kept choosing to stay despite everything. Her family (all three Mothers, multiple siblings and Dad) are there. They are a different family, but they are hers and they love each other deeply. Yes, her parents made horrible choices that subsequently led to her present circumstances, but they adore her, their family and their community.

    Williams has created a beautiful tale that sheds light on the underground world of polygamous sects. Kyra is a strong, young heroine you want to hug, take in, root for and protect. She is simply amazing.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2011

    Best Book Yet

    This book is great. The uncle Hyrom is a good sinister characeter

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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