The Chosen One, by Carol Lynch Williams, is only one book in a growing subgenre of teen fiction revolving around life in a polygamous family. Of course, Kyra’s life is less pleasant than the lives of television stars like those of Sister Wives and Big Love.
Born and raised on a religious compound in essentially the middle of nowhere, Kyra’s only link to the outside world is a small, mobile library that passes the compound once a week. This contact with the rest of the world is only the first in a long list of sins and secrets that begin to make up Kyra’s private life; hardly easy when you have nineteen siblings by your father’s three wives.
As the book continues, the rest of the list is revealed, including Kyra’s private relationship with a boy her own age, despite being engaged to her own much-older uncle. Her desperation to escape only grows as she fights against the word of the Prophet, the leader or her group, and is shown only the harsh fist of the uncaring and unsympathetic men in power who are determined to keep her in her place, soon to be a sister-wife with an ever-expanding family of her own.
Sadly, I wasn’t able to connect with any of the characters on a major level, due in part to both the sheer number of them, and the failure of the author to go into depth on their personalities. For example, when Kyra is fawning over her love interest, Joshua, there is simply no… “spark” behind her words. She can say that she loves him from sun up to sun set, but there is so little feeling behind her voice that I have a hard time believing her.
When I wasn’t trying to figure out the difference between all of Kayla’s sisters, The Chosen One made me feel as though I was on a carousel. There was a distinct beginning and end, but the same basic thing happens all throughout the middle: Someone does something wrong, that someone is punished severely, a higher-up explains that this happened either because of Satan’s or God’s Will, and then Kyra goes off on a tangent explaining how much she hates all of it.
Despite the setbacks, Kyra’s sheer desire for freedom kept me reading, as did the help she received from Patrick, the sympathetic driver of the bookmobile who fed her curiosity at his own risk, and her older sister Emily, who reminded her that, no matter how bleak things look, she is still loved.
Overall, if you are into books in this subgenre I recommend you pick The Chosen One up, but if you are looking for a longer book with a little more depth to it I suggest you move on to your next choice.
Emily Weaver enjoys museum galleries, wading in streams, and the more-than-occasional episode of anime. She also hopes to travel the world some day.