“'There's cold chicken inside it,' replied the Rat briefly; 'coldtonguecoldhamcoldbeefpickledgherkinssaladfrench

'O stop, stop,' cried the Mole in ecstacies: 'This is too much!'”
-- from
The Wind in the Willows

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Chosen One • Young adult fiction

The Chosen One
by Carol Lynch Williams
May 12, 2009 • St. Martin's Griffin • YA fiction • Ages 12 and up
Family or freedom? She must choose.
Story: Thirteen-year-old Kyra has grown up in an isolated community without questioning the fact that her father has three wives and she has twenty brothers and sisters. Or at least without questioning them much -- if you don't count her secret visits to the Mobile Library on Wheels to read forbidden books, or her meetings with the boy she hopes to choose for herself instead of having a man chosen for her. But when the Prophet decrees that Kyra must marry her sixty-year-old uncle -- who already has six wives -- Kyra must make a desperate choice in the face of violence and her own fears of losing her family.
Story behind the story: Carol Lynch Williams tells us a bit about the idea behind The Chosen One: "Many years ago I heard of a young woman who ran from her polygamist community. She was dragged home, beaten and yet she ran again. I knew at that moment -- at least a decade ago -- that I would write this novel.

One of my goals in writing this book was to show the difference between polygamist groups and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints of which I am a member. Some people still think that most men in Utah have more than one wife. Polygamists are not Latter-day Saints.

I did a huge amount of research before and during the writing. There are many different kinds of polygamist groups around the world. So while this book is grounded in fact, it is still fiction. I looked up everything I could online. This was a few years back, before the Warren Jeffs arrest. And it was kind of weird, because when I knew I was ready to start writing, it suddenly seemed that TV was full of stories of polygamists. I watched several nationwide news programs, read many newspaper articles, and read both positive and negative accounts of polygamy."

Fellow authors offer their praise for The Chosen One:

"The Chosen One makes the heart race, the teeth grind, and the brow bead up in sweat...I could choose no other book or newspaper until I had finished the final page." -- Gregory Maguire, 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

"Imagine Anna Quindlen or Sue Miller writing a young adult novel...Spare, direct, and startling, Kyra Leigh's story is one every young woman should hear. Be forewarned; this book is a compulsive read." -- Audrey Couloumbis, author of the 2000 Newbury Honor Book Getting Near to Baby

"In this extraordinary novel, 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

Many more authors, educators, librarians and bloggers have chimed in. See the Facebook page for even more praise. What's important, though, is what YOU have to say about The Chosen One.

FYI: all the review copies for this title have been sent and reviews are in the works; please check back and click on the "comments" link below to read what your colleagues have to say.


Sarah at The Storybook Garden said...

I read The Chosen One and loved it! Check out my post about it on my blog...

Owner,The Storybook Garden
Weslaco, TX, USA

ahslibrarian said...

Carol Lynch Williams’ The Chosen One might be what one gets when they throw the Duggars of TLC fame into a little darker environment. It is powerful, like a gruesome car wreck that has to be viewed again and again. It is a well-told story and skillfully adapted to address a subject that is taboo for most readers. Thankfully, it is fiction, but we all know this has probably existed.

Kyra is thirteen and about to marry her uncle, but only because it is God’s will. Polygamy aside, violence and skewed religious views exact control over all who live within the compound. Outsiders are viewed as anathema.

Kyra’s curiosity leads her back to books, familiar and forbidden, that have been purged from the community when she was little. Toss in an adolescent boy along with a would-be-hero, who happens to drive a bookmobile, and the stage is set for violent and almost unbelievable conflict.

Teenage girls will make this book circulate, but reserve a few copies for the guys too. It is action packed in a refreshing way that makes several important points about basic human rights. The Chosen One will likely open discussions concerning a wide range of family dynamics. Encourage the conversation and know that this book will make a difference.

5 of 5

John Parker
Medeia Coordinator
Andrews High School
50 HS Drive
Andrews, NC 28901

Read More of My Reviews at

The Black Family said...

Wow, this book really made me ask a lot of questions. It was so well-written and involved so many things that hit so close to home. As a mother, this book infuriated me, but it was so hard to look away. I read the whole thing in an hour and a half. I am, like the author, a member of the LDS faith, and am glad that this book exposes the dark and inhumane practices of religious groups who are often associated with our faith but who are actually SO far from our beliefs.

This book would be great for high school students. I am not sure I would recommend it for middle schoolers, as the themes throughout the book are pretty tough to handle, even for an adult.

Overall, I give this book a 5/5, as it is one of the more thought-provoking books I have come upon in a while. I put it right up there with Hunger Games!

Lindsey B.
Title I teacher, Utah

Laurie said...

Wow -- hard to put down. Definitely a 5/5. Chilling, affecting, entirely believable. I'd like a sequel to find out how Kyra fares once the story ends. I'd recommend this for grades 6 & up.

Laurie, Youth Services Librarian, Baldwin Public Library, MI

Julie P. said...

I can't remember where I first heard about THE CHOSEN ONE by Carol Lynch Williams, but I just knew I had to read it. I have been on a pretty big YA kick lately and am truly loving all the amazing books in this genre. Plus, I admit that the story about a young girl who lives on a polygamist compound does fascinate me -- I am a big fan of the HBO series Big Love. The multitudes of praise for this book are beyond positive. Having said all that, ,I couldn't wait to read this book; and once I started it, I couldn't put it down -- I actually read it in one sitting. I thought this book was just terrific! I have a feeling that it's going to be one of those books that everyone is talking about.

There are so many terrific things to say about this novel. The storyline is definitely intriguing, and there's a little bit of everything in this book (including lots of action and suspense which I wasn't really expecting.) I am absolutely fascinated by the entire polygamist lifestyle and especially interested in the life these girls and women have on these compounds. As I read this book, I found myself often time shocked; but more than that, I was outraged by their treatment. The abuse, both mental and physical, that the children in this book experienced was horrific.

While I found the story just amazing, I also think I enjoyed this novel so much because of the character of Kyra. She was an amazing choice of narrator for this book, and I loved all of her insights and perceptions about her life. I also liked that Kyra had a love of books (what reader can't relate to that feeling) , and she was passionate enough about her desire to read that she often times sacrificed her well-being just to be able to visit a library and check out a book. In addition, I was just blown away by her inner strength -- she had her own ideas about what was right and she wasn't afraid to share her opinions with authority figures. She knew she was different from her other family members and children on the compound, and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing how the author portrayed Kyra's internal struggle with this conflict.

I think young girls are going to absolutely love this book. I know I would have been very interested in learning about Kyra's life because it was so totally different than anything I had ever experienced. Even though Kyra's parents, home life, schooling, etc. are very unique to her situation, I think young girls are still going to find themselves relating to her character. While Kyra's problems are hopefully unique to her situation, her feelings and insecurities are common themes to all young women. Many girls will relate to her fear of disappointing of parents and her feelings of not belonging. I also think girls will definitely enjoy the forbidden love angle and the exciting end to the story.

I was also extremely impressed with Ms. Lynch Williams writing. The story captured my attention from the start, and I just couldn't wait to see how Kyra's story ends (although I'm still wondering that myself.) The author did a wonderful job of creating and developing memorable characters, and I thought she captured the thoughts and actions of a young teen girl perfectly. And I absolutely thought Kyra's voice was spot on! I was also impressed with the amount of research that she conducted while writing THE CHOSEN ONE. I would love to read more by this author if this novel is any indication!

As you can clearly see, I highly recommend this book to both teens and adults alike. In fact, I think it would make an excellent book for your next book club meeting. I wish the girls in our Mother-Daughter book club were the target age for this novel because I would be insisting that we all read it and discuss the serious issues in this story. However, it's going to be a few more years until they are ready for this book since they are only nine and ten years old. I was fortunate enough to receive a discussion guide brochure with my ARC copy, but I haven't been able to find the questions yet on-line (as soon as I do, I will set up a link.) There are just so many fascinating topics to discuss in this book including polygamy, family relationships, parent/child relationships, differences between the sexes, physical and mental abuse, etc. I guarantee that you could talk about the characters and their actions for hours.

Rating: 5/5

K.Deeb Sarasota Florida said...

I could not wait to read this book. 5 out of 5 awesome book...K.Deeb Sarasota Florida

A Vasquez said...

The Chosen One is interesting and intense. Near the end I could not put it down. I would recommend this as a 4 on the Picnic Basket scale. This is going into my library for sure.

Elizabeth said...

This book was a 5 out of 5. Once I started I couldn't put it down. I read it in 3 hours! The initial suspense of her finding out that she was to marry and then the layers of the plot from her reading "forbidden" books, liking a "forbidden" boy and defying the things "god" has spoken to the elders. Each of these weave together to create a suspenseful, thought provoking engagin story.

ESnover said...

I received this book just yesterday, but once I started reading, I just could not put it down. Unfortunately, Kyra's story seems like it was ripped from yesterday's headlines about Warren Jeffs... Like another recent read, The Secret Keepers, this book is excellent at capturing fiction that seems all too real. I cared about Kyra. I cared about the fact that she and her family seemed trapped in a horrible situation, but only Kyra was willing to actually do what it took to escape. Kyra is faced with the most difficult decision she will likely ever face - to leave her family and home, knowing she can never go back, never see them again, never even speak to them again. I would definitely give this a 5 out of 5, but also, due to the brutally honest look inside this cults' life, also recommend it for high school students.

Carrie Blagg, Cherokee Elementary said...

"The Chosen One" is a riveting, thought-provoking, and moving novel. Once you begin reading, you will not be able to put it down.

Carol Lynch Williams takes us into the life of Kyra, a child, in a polygamous cult. You will find yourself shaking with anger at those who cause such pain in the name of God and the next moment you will be cheering for Kyra due to her inner strength.

Due to the content, I recommend this book for high school students. I give this book 5 out of 5.

EShay said...

I was hooked from the beginning. It is a fairly fast read - the only rough moments for me came from the violence. I had to put it down a couple of times. Maybe mature 8th graders could handle the content, but otherwise I would give it to older readers. I was riveted to find out what would happen next to Kyra.
What an interesting look into a world most of us know nothing about!

A definite 5.

Wanda said...

The Chosen One arrived in my morning mail. Unfortunately for the rest of my work day, I opened to the first page. I finished the book at 4:30 in the afternoon. Compelling plot development and true-to-life dialogue lends strength to Kyra's story. I have often heard a book described as ripped from today's headlines. Chosen One is ripped! But the story goes beyond mere enticement. Williams draws sympathetic characters with strengths and weaknesses with which we identify. Even the characters we would love to hate, we come to realize are as trapped as Kyra herself in this dictatorship called a community.

I highly recommend The Chosen One for higher level high school English classes and for readers who want to think about the nature of freedom and faith.

Wanda Erickson
public librarian
K-12 public school librarian
Upsala MN

Wanda said...

The Chosen One arrived in my morning mail. Unfortunately for the rest of my work day, I opened to the first page. I finished the book at 4:30 in the afternoon. Compelling plot development and true-to-life dialogue lends strength to Kyra's story. I have often heard a book described as ripped from today's headlines. Chosen One is ripped! But the story goes beyond mere enticement. Williams draws sympathetic characters with strengths and weaknesses with which we identify. Even the characters we would love to hate, we come to realize are as trapped as Kyra herself in this dictatorship called a community.

I highly recommend The Chosen One for higher level high school English classes and for readers who want to think about the nature of freedom and faith. 5 out of 5, definitely!

Wanda Erickson
public librarian
K-12 public school librarian
Upsala MN

Anonymous said...

I rate this book a 5.

I could not put it down. I was so intrigued and felt my own nerves getting to me throughout the book. What Kyra was feeling, I was feeling.
I was completely engulfed and distrssed when she was taken back, beat and had to leave without Joshua. The ending made me feel better. However, I would have stayed distressed if it ended with her having to stay at the compound.
I know that can be based on real life. It is terrible that women are not equals. I am glad I was not raised that way.

Linda B said...

This is one of the most compelling pieces of YA literature that I have read in a while. The story is different than books that I have read before, writing about a very tender subject that few have addressed with young adults. It's a world that my young adults may not know about but is a good segway to talking about cults.

It has a five out of five for sure.

dmuldawer said...

Long ago, while studying the ten commandments, our rabbi asked us why "Thou shalt not take the Lord's name in vain" was as prohibited as murder, adultery, and other serious crimes. In fact, it was considered the most grievious of crimes. Now we scratched our heads and wondered how saying something like "God damn" could be so serious, but then the rabbi told us that the commandment actually referred to doing evil deeds in the name of God. The inquisition, slavery, the Holocaust, the crusades. All these violated the third commandment. And in her insightful book, THE CHOSEN, Carol Lynch Williams continues to explore the dichotomy between appearance and reality.

The world of THE CHOSEN is a dark one, led by a prophet who sees sin in everything and everyone. While the people in the community reflect wistfully on the gentler rule of the prophet's father, no one questions their leader's rules or realizes the arbitrary measures that dictate their religion. The Chosen, especially the women, are taught to obey. Only by discipline and obedience can they hope to be rewarded by a higher position within the religious community and heaven thereafter. Reflecting the book ANIMAL FARM, those in power also get more material possessions. This is seen as their reward for being "righteous."
However, "righteousness" is frighteningly sinister. The protagonist, Kyra, sees her baby sister nearly drowned, her boyfriend beaten, her would-be rescuer brutally killed, a mentally retarded baby killed for not being perfect, and is herself beaten for daring to love someone of her choice.
Because her father refuses to engage in this kind of "discipline," he is not allowed to advance in the ranks of his religion. And because her boyfriend defends her and asks for her hand, he is forced to run away or be exiled to the desert, where he will die of thirst or hunger. Even the men in this book, who seemingly have much more power and freedom, are bound by the laws of their community and dissenters are punished swiftly and without hesitation.
The Latin word for both the word "books" and the word "freedom" is "liber." With this connection, it is perhaps not surprising that Kyra liberates her mind through books and later her body through driving the bookmobile to freedom.
While I was devastated by Patrick's death, especially thinking about the wife and child left behind, it made sense that he couldn't be a knight in shining armor. Kyra has to find her own path to freedom and find the courage to change her own life.
This book was thought-provoking and well written. A caveat though. While THE CHOSEN is recommended for ages 12 and up, it would be more suitable for high school or perhaps some advanced and highly mature 8th graders.
THE CHOSEN will be a valuable asset to any library and I highly recommend it.

Picnic Basket Rating: 5

Cori said...

This is a wonderful book that was hard to put down. You were really able to understand Kyra's struggles. It also allows us to see what the polygamist life is like for the children. Wonderful book that I would recommend for upper middle school into high school

Susan Appleton said...

WOW! Can I just leave it at that???? I am totally blown away by this novel! Like the author, I too am LDS, and I am glad that this book stresses that these polygmous cults are NOT associated and condoned by our church. The character of Kyra is so amazing and shows so much strength. I started reading this book and absolutely could NOT put it down. I think it is definitely for older students though with some of the themes and topics in it, but it is so well-written and really exposes this topic very well! Definitely a 5/5 rating for this one....WOW! Well written!

Sandra Stiles said...

The Chosen One was a book that I could not put down. Before putting it on my shelf at school I passed it around to several other teachers. Kyra was a well developed character. You felt like she was talking to you personally telling you her story. I was angered at the abuse they suffered. It made me cringe that one person "the Prophet" had so much power over everyone. It almost made me thing of the power that Jim Jones had. It deals with several issues that seem to be forbidden on our YA bookshelves. I applaud Carol Lynch Williams for being one of those writers unafraid of rocking the boat. This definately gets a rating of 5 from me.

Mrs. Horne said...

Wow....I am not even sure how to start a review on this book. I guess I can begin by saying how disturbed I was while reading it. There is very little "good" regarding the culture that was displayed in this novel, my only hope is that this isn't as real as we all suspect it probably is.

Kyra is such a powerful character - she truly goes against everything that her culture promotes. She endures such suffering at the hands of the men in her community...all the while plotting her escape.

The worst part of the book for me was Mariah's punishment...I could hardly continue reading knowing what they were doing to her. With a one-year old of my own I could really relate to the total innocence of that age. How cruel...

I think this book has so much value - the value of education. I think we all need to take a hard look at what is going on around us and help those who just cannot help themselves. Something like this should never happen.

I would have a hard time using this in my classroom - I think some of the content is a little heavy for 6th grade. I would definitely use this in an upper middle/high school English class.

Picnic Basket Rating: 4/5

Lindsay Horne
New Kent Middle School
New Kent, VA

Anonymous said...

I loved the book The Chosen One. Once I started it I could not put it down. This story has everything that adolescent readers love. I am sure that as word gets out about this book that it won't be on my bookshelf for long.
Kyra the main character was very believable. You couldn't help but cheer her on throughout the story. I was glad that the story ended the way it did, and that Kyra's story can continue if the author chooses.
I look forward to hearing what my students have to say about the story.
Jackie Purificato
Consultant teacher

Julia Pitau said...

After I read the synopsis of The Chosen One, I couldn't wait to read the entire story. However, on the day I received it, I passed it on to a teacher who had told me the day before that she was looking for something new for her students. Immediately, she began reading it and returned it to me the very next morning telling me she couldn't put the book down. The teacher told me that the story was on the dark side and that, even thought the vocabulary was not too difficult, the concept was on a higher level of thinking. Next year she plans on having her 11th and 12th grade students read this book.

Needless to say, I was anxious to begin my own journey with this novel and was not disappointed. Being a slower reader, it took me three days to read this very compelling story. I was immediately pulled in with the powerful first sentence. And the story line never slowed down. Fast paced and full of "action" I believe this novel is suitable for high school students. I rank this a Picnic Basket 4.5.

Denair Charter Academy
Denair, CA
Media & Intervention Technician K-12

amorrison said...

I read The Chosen One in 2 days. I was compelled to find out what happens to Kyra and just kept reading and reading. The story is well told and also showed the special love that Kyra's family had for one another while living in this very strict, created environment.
While this book is fiction, one can imagine that some lives are being lived this way right now.
I would definately recommend this book.

Lemon the Duck said...

What an eye-opener!
It is obvious that the author researched her topic and provided valuable information to the reader.
The author took us through Kyra's gut wrenching, roller-coaster ride.
Although I felt the charachter grew and changed too quickly in the story, I loved everything else about it. The ending didn't get tied up in a nice little bow which is how I like a YA novel to end. It is so relevant to the times and an awakening for our students of what is happening to some in our own backyards. The conversations this book will inspire---I wish I could be a fly on the wall.
This book left me wanting to know what the next chapter in Kyra's life will hold. I hope we get to find out.
I rate this book a 5 out of 5
Laura Backman
Reading Specialist
Author of "Lemon the Duck"

jlarkin said...

To echo many other comments...WOW! This book was unbelievably good. I came back to school after our spring break and found it in my mailbox. Luckily my classes were having reading workshop so I was able to dive right in. I finished it before the end of the day.

Like a car crash you just can't turn away from, the suspense and drama in this book was something I couldn't tear myself away from. As a mother of a one and four year old, the water scene with Mariah had my crying in my classroom. We read stories of violence - but to read a story where violence was excused as God-inspired discipline was horrific. Kyra's inner strength and determination was amazing and I found myself rooting for her throughout the story - with Joshua, with Patrick in the book mobile, as she sliced her dress to shreds, etc.

Where was I disappointed? Just at the end...I wanted more. What happened at the compound after her escape? What happened to her family? What will happen to her?

An amazing story - one I won't hesitate to encourage my middle school students to read. Although it is violent - it wasn't done graphically. Kyra is 13 years old - this is a story girls her age should read.

5 out of 5.

John said...

What an amazing book! When I first started reading the book, I had a feeling that I was really going to dislike it. I felt that it was not quite what I had expected when I asked for a preview copy, but after moving through the very early pages, I found myself entranced with the story that was unfolding before me. I especially loved the fact that there was love involved in the story along with secrets that I felt I shared with the narrator. After I finished reading the book, I felt the need to share it with my students (though I can't yet, since we're STAR testing), but I can't wait to get their opinions about it. I know that I really enjoyed the time I spent reading the novel and that anyone who gives it a chance will find themselves in a world that grabs hold and pulls them into the unexpected. Definitely a 5 out of 5. Grab a copy of your own today!

Anonymous said...

WOW! I was drawn to this book because of the topic (polygamy), but I had no idea what I was in for. There were many times I put the book down, disturbed, only to pick it right back up because I had to know what happened to Kyra and her family. While reading, I had to keep reminding myself that this is a fiction story though I know things like this do happen. I strongly recommend this book for high school age and above. (Many topics in the book would not be appropriate for younger readers.) Readers will devour this thought-provoking, intense book.

Natalie H.
Zionsville, IN, USA

gymreads said...

Amazing, I couldn't stop reading it. Very powerful and well written. I hope to see a sequel in the coming years. I feel like I need to know what will happen to Kyra and her family. I give this book a 5/5.

Pamela Kramer said...

OK. I cried at the end. I really liked this book and the main character, Kyra. It was especially fascinating to read this book after The Secret Keeper because of some of the similarities in the two stories. In spite of the huge geographical difference between India and Utah, both girls are in situations where they are not in control of their futures. And both girls take steps (in spite of cultural prohibitions) to shape their futures. It would be very interesting to have one-half a middle school class read one book and have the other half read the other--and then have them compare the books and the main characters.

The book was not a difficult read, but because of the content, I do not think it is an appropriate read for elementary school (5th graders).

I give this a 5/5--take it to all picnics!

Pamela Kramer
Oak Terrace School
Highwood, IL 60040

Mandy said...

I could not put The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams down! The story gripped my attention with graphic details of Kyra's life as part of the Chosen Ones. The author's craft of writing in first person makes you feel like you are there with the family living in the desert heat and feeling the coldness of the "punishment" bath. I greatly enjoyed the family dynamics of this extended family. Although the story is about her life in this violent, unfair world, there is a great underlying story of a strong family love, the strong will of a girl who knows she has to change her fate, and the amazing power of books. This is a book that people are going to want to read and talk about. Oprah should pick this for her Book Club. I would love to have a book discussion on this one. Great Must Read!!!

5 of 5

Tina's Blog said...

I was very excited to get an ARC of The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams to review. I stayed up late last night reading and tried to finish it while I was exercising this morning before finally giving in and lounging on the couch for a few minutes so I could pay attention to what I was reading. Kyra is growing up in a polygamous religious sect. Life seems to move smoothly for Kyra - playing with her many brothers and sisters, and helping out her mothers. Her father is also a loving man, not stern and strict like some of the other men on the compound. While there have been different instances in the past of people leaving the compound, and one young woman was stoned to death, Kyra doesn't really think about these things much. This all changes when Kyra is chosen to marry her own uncle, her father's brother, who is at least sixty years old. Kyra will be his seventh wife. Suddenly Kyra cannot fathom living out her years in this way. While Uncle Hyrum has forbidden many things, including reading books, Kyra has been sneaking away to meet the Bookmobile when it makes it's way by their compound. She is able to learn about how people outside their compound live. She has also taken an interest in a young man, Joshua, who reciprocates her feelings. What will happen to them both if anyone finds out?

Williams' book may be the first real look some young adult readers get of polygamy and fundamentalist religion. While this is only one perspective, I also thought it reminded me a great deal of Escape by Carolyn Jessop, who had been married off at a young age, in a situation very similar to Kyra's. Jessop also chose to escape, although she had many children to take with her when she did. This book was very interesting, grabbing my attention from the beginning, and I predict teen readers will be equally as engrossed.
Rating 5

Anonymous said...

The Chosen One is an excellent book about a 13-year-old girl named Kyra who is almost 14. She thinks she should have a little more freedom since she's getting older. Her father has three wives and twenty children, with two more on the way. Her sister Laura is her best friend and often protects her. Kyra and her family are the chosen ones. She was told by the prophet that she has to get married to her sixty-year-old uncle but she truly loves Joshua.

What I really like about this book is how Kyra stood up for what she believed in. I also really liked Joshua. I didn't like the prophet because you should be able to do what you please, like marry. I also didn't like what happened with Patrick. The God Squad was on my bad side as well.

- Dimen, Grade 7

Rachel said...

The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams is an eye-opening read centered around Kyra who is part of a polygamist family.

Kyra's voice brings life to this story of life on a compound where every move is dictated by The Prophet- from what you can read to who you must marry. Kyra is faced with the prospect of marrying her uncle, one of the Apostles on the compound- something she will do pretty much anything to escape. I think readers will be intrigued with the way Kyra works to reconcile her wants and needs with those chosen for her by everyone else. These themes are similar no matter where you live or who your parents are, so middle grade and YA readers will see some of themselves in Kyra.

My favorite part of the novel was the power that books had for Kyra even in a society where reading anything mainstream was forbidden. Books in the end, saved Kyra- and don't they do that for others of us everyday?

My rating: 4/5!

Public Librarian
Annapolis, MD

A. Hunt said...

5 out of 5
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Sorry, am I repeating myself? "The Chosen Ones" is a beautifully written book about a current and very controversial subject - polygamy. It reminded me much of "Witness" by Carolyn Jessup which recounts her childhood of growing up and then marriage in a polygamous society.

I can very easily see using this book in a literature cirlce setting and including current nonfiction pieces (magazines and interviews) into the mix for discussion. Thankfully the book is completely appropriate for a middle school audience with soft references, if you will, to marriage and the marriage bed.

Nicely done. Include in your middle school picnic basket.

A. Hunt
8th Grade Language Arts
Fort Walton Beach, FL

K. Sisson said...

5 out of 5! I loved this book! It is a wonderful example of modern day realistic fiction that involves the serious issues surrounding some of the polygamy compounds. It truly does take a dark look at polygamy and it's possible evils whereas on TV shows like Big Love take a slightly more humorous approach. Every character in the book (except for those in positions of power) have flaws and redeeming qualities.

I loved the part where Kyra's outlet of her daily life were through the "banned" books and her ultimate escape came through this forbidden connection. It shows kids that reading really can be for pleasure and if it's taken away, it will be missed.

This book is a little too heavy for my 6th graders, with the issues of older man/teenage girl marriage, as well as the incest theme of marrying your uncle. I think it would be best found in an upper middle school/high school library. I'm going to be passing this book on to one of my favorite 8th grade teachers for her to have for her classroom library!

K. Sisson
6th grade Language Arts Teacher
Northern Illinois

Sarah O. said...
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Anonymous said...

This book is a shapshot into many controversial issues that would make for good discussion. It deals with polygamy, the questioning of authority, and the search for truth. I would recommend it for more mature readers, like 11th and 12th grade students, who could really “hash out” the issues.

I give it a Picnic Basket rating of 5 out of 5.

Sarah Oyerinde
Marion, IN

deltay said...

Carol Lynch Williams' The Chosen One has been the recipient of a multitude of high praise, despite the fact that it has yet to be released. In fact, right on the cover of the ARC edition, it's referred to as "compelling", "powerful", "a masterpiece", "an important book"... With heralds like that, one begins the book with high expectations.

Despite that, The Chosen One does not disappoint. In fact, it even surpassed those high expectations, for the most part. (Just a random side observation - this is also a book written in present tense; how uncanny!) Williams has boiled down to the essence of a thirteen year old voice with the bare minimums in Kyra. The storytelling style is simultaneously captivating and credible. The flashback memories are incorporated well, the tale flows beautifully, and a sense of immediacy is created between the reader and Kyra. The one thing that irked me slightly was the random changes to poetry format. A few of them worked well, but some of the others just felt like overkill. Had the transition been a little more smooth, they might all have worked, but as it were, a few of them just felt fragmented and interrupted the otherwise amazing flow.

Kyra is characterized fantastically as a main protag. Pathos is generated masterly, and readers will be carried along on the intense ride of emotions, feeling their hearts go out to this thirteen year old girl with whom they may not have a lot in common with, but will find themselves unable to remain removed from her compelling tale. Emotions were conveyed beautifully. The supporting cast was also portrayed very well. It was easy to be swept along with the story. When Kyra was wronged by those around her, I felt angry at the perpetrators, at the Prophet, at her uncle. And such was the power of Kyra's narration - the emotions of the characters have the ability to overtake the reader before he or she is consciously aware of it.

A lot of the concepts in this novel offer insight into a world that's so close to our own, but that we don't really know a lot about. It's thought-provoking, and it'll probably draw in some controversy after its release, but especially with the amount of polygamy stories hitting the news recently, the conversations provoked will definitely be interesting.

The Mobile Library on Wheels - now that is one awesome thing. The many twists towards the end though - and this is a book which pulls you along in the story really well, without having you try to predict the answers beforehand because you're too engrossed in the present - those are very shocking and powerful. I, for one, was pretty much blown away by the progression of the climax.

The Chosen One is definitely going to be a book widely discussed after its release. From the awesome hook of an opening line, " 'If I was going to kill the prophet,' I say, not even keeping my voice low, 'I'd do it in Africa.' (Williams 1, ARC Edition)" to the chilling climax, to the hopeful end, The Chosen One is an unforgettable, heartbreaking tale.



Anonymous said...

This book flew around the table at my book club and both guys and girls were equally facinated. It was a quick read but had many of my students clamouring for more information about polygamy and the Canadian connection. Across the board students were hoping for a sequel to find out how Kyra moves on.


Dia Macbeth
Assistant Principal/Teacher Librarian
Riverbend Junior High
Edmonton, Alberta

Jennifer Garnier, Library Support Specialist said...

I couldn?t put this novel down, reading it from cover to cover. It?s a gripping emotional and powerful story that I would recommend every teen and adult read.
5 Strongly Recommend
Jennifer Garnier
Library Support Specialist
Eastern Passage Education Centre

ASD librarian said...

Once I picked up this book I couldn't put it down until the very end. This was a very well researched book that is gripping and chilling at the same time. I LOVED how the Mobile library was involved in rescuing Kyra.
This book opens up a very taboo subject and allows for conversation about it.

It is frightning to think that there are girls like this that really have to deal with this situation every day. Kyra is a very strong character who is a role model to girls of this generation. Although she was doing things behind her parent's back (reading books, sneaking out, and thinking about escape) I think that her character is worth analyzing and looking up to for today's girls.

I am going to be looking for other books by Carol Williams to include in my collection.

El said...

Williams, Carol Lynch. The Chosen One (St. Martin’s Griffin, May 2009)

I care about Kyra. I care about her family. Williams has created characters who make the reader want to care. Kyra’s world is believable. Her family’s lifestyle is not one dimensional but nuanced with the good and the bad. Kyra is a headstrong girl who never really questions her lifestyle until the time comes for her own assimilation into adulthood. She is content to travel outside her world through secret visits to the bookmobile but seems to have no intention of ever leaving her community or rejecting their beliefs until she is betrothed to someone she doesn’t want. Then, her world begins to unravel. This is a heartbreaking story. While reading it you want Kyra to find freedom, but you also know that this will be the end of her family and their close knit if unconventional relationship. Williams’ portrayal of the adults in Kyra’s life is fascinating. Her father is caring, loving, and sensitive to all of his family members. Her mother(s) are all compassionate to her plight. The young man she does love is courageous. At the conclusion the reader is left hoping that perhaps Kyra will go on to have a good life and be reunited with her family somehow. I loved this book. Couldn’t put it down! 5 stars: Strongly Recommended!

Mary Lou said...

The Chosen One is a thought-provoking book for middle and high The Chosen One is a thought-provoking book for middle and high school students. Adults will enjoy this book, too. The subject matter is definitely for mature older students. As a reader I felt as if I was standing in the background watching the story unfold before my eyes. You will experience is a range of emotions as you read this novel. At times I was compelled to stop and think, “What would I do?” or “Why would a person stay?” or “Why?” This is definitely a book for discussion. The content is gritty and may cause some readers to pull back. I give it a 5 out of 5.
Mary Lou
Literacy facilitator
Bella Vista Elementary
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Stephanie said...

The Chosen One was so compelling I couldn't put it down. It tackles the big themes of family and freedom, things most teenagers in North America take for granted. Kyra, 13, struggles with freedom of choice, freedom of religion, even freedom of thought. This book is a window into a culture that will bring out strong, emotional reactions from its readers. It is impossible to read this book and not choose sides. Readers will empathize with Kyra; they will also gain an understanding of her family's point of view. The author presents Kyra's situation in such a light that readers will easily grasp how hard her decisions would be.

Carol Lynch Williams' book ends with some unanswered questions that leave you wanting more. The characters stay with you long after you've turned the last page. I rate this book 5 out of 5.

Intermediate students (grade 7 to 10) and older will find this book chock full of topics for discussion. As a teacher, I would use this book as a springboard for drama, role-playing, debate, and reading response.

Anonymous said...

The Chosen One is an incredibly contagious book. My seventh grade daughter and I read it simultaneously and both of us rate it a 5/5! We were both hooked from the first page and could not wait to finish it but soon regretted it being over. We felt compassion for Kyra and hope for her future.

jlarkin said...

Hi Everyone -

I've already posted a review...but I wanted to give you a link to my new blog...


It's blog by my 7th grade students about teen fiction! Please check it out, especially if you're a middle school teacher. You'll also see an additional review about The Chosen One - a book I can't keep on my shelf now!

Anonymous said...

Wonderfully engaging! Gripping from the beginning. A peek into a world with which few of us are familiar. I'm hoping for a sequel!

cupcake said...

I enjoyed this book very, very much, although it made me feel terribly sad. I really liked how Kyra refused to conform to the groupthink mentality of her commune, and I think that is an important message for teenage girls, regardless of whether or not they live amongst polygamy. I think boys would like it as well because of the anti-authority threads running through it. Kyra was an interesting, well-developed character, and I felt like her relationships with her family adn boyfriend rang true.

Rating: 5/5

~ cupcake
High School English Teacher
North Carolina

Renee said...

I read The Chosen One in two days. Having read another book about real-life religious polygamists, I had some idea about what I was getting into. I really enjoyed the writing and the main character. It was interesting to see how she was torn between what she had been taught (to respect authority and do what "God" wants) and her desire to choose her own destiny. After reading the book, you can understand how people stay in these kind of situation. I give it a 5, but I'm not sure I'll recommend it to my middle school because of the difficult theme.

Pamela Kramer said...

An additional comment--I loaned this to my school librarian who is not a great YA fan. She stayed up all night reading this and highly recommended it to her colleagues!

I loved this book.

Pamela Kramer
Reading Teacher
Highwood, Illinois

Tasses said...

Read this one in one sitting! For my review, head over to my Reading Education & Children's Literature site:Reading Rumpus

Cheryl Tasses
Reading Specialist
4/5 Picnic Basket Rating

Martine Battista said...

Wow! Intense. Exciting. Riveting. I loaned this book out 3 times already and these are just a few words the readers used when returning it to me. Well done. Although I usually hate sequels, this is one story where I'd love to read what happens next to Kyra. I give it a 5.
Denair Middle School Library
Denair, CA