Friday, May 8, 2009

The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams

*This post is a part of the first Traveling To Teens book tour*

CAROL LYNCH WILLIAMS, a four-time winner of the Utah Original Writing Competition and winner of Nebraska’s Golden Sower Award, grew up in Florida but now lives in Utah with her husband and seven children. She has an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults, and helped develop the conference on Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers at Brigham Young University.

Family or freedom? She must choose.
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.
(Summary from back of ARC)

Please don't stone me or dunk me in a tub of ice water, but I didn't think this book was as great as everyone else is making it out to be. I'm not saying that it was horrible or anything, I just don't think that it fully deserves all of the praise it's been getting.

Complaint #1: The writing isn't so nice. Although I guess this isn't that bad as it is told from the eyes of a thirteen-year-old who's grown up away from society and doesn't really know how everything works, but I still thought it was a little dry and flavorless. There was nothing there that would even make you want to like Kyra. She was just a boring girl. Maybe if her feelings of escape and rebellion had been a little stronger and more exciting I would've been satisfied but I thought it was kinda...meh.

Complaint #2: The book was too short! If you're going to take on the topic of polygamy then you have to make it really convincing and juicy. I would've loved to hear more about what went on at the camp, what the other families there were like, how Kyra intereacted with her siblings, etc. Out of the 20 siblings that she has, we only really encounted three of them and we never see any other families at the compound except Hyrum's briefly, and Joshua's. More of everything would've helped.

Complaint #3: The ending was too open for my tastes. I wish we could've seen how Kyra acclimated to the new world she was living in and how she changed, both for the better and for the worse. To be able to view our world through the eyes of someone who's never been there and has scorn for it built into her at a young age would've been fun to read about. We did see a little of that when she and her mothers went into town once, but there wasn't enough of it.

Positive #1: The topic was genuinely unique. I've never read a book about polygamy before - never even heard of a book about it, so for Carol Lynch Williams to tackle it was ground breaking. There's a Q&A with her in the book and it sounds like she did a lot of research and learned about what life is like on a compound and about who the people are. That thoughtfulness showed in the book through the characters and their personalities. Kyra's mothers were really intersting to me, both in their passivity and also in their drive to live. The detail that was there seemed well thought out and organized.

Positive #2: The influence of books in Kyra's life was super fun. Maybe I'm biased, but I liked the idea that the book mobile was the thing to save her and help her shed her past and move on. It demonstrated that yes, books have the power to do great things. I also just like the idea of a Book Mobile. I want one.

To sum it up: This was a decent book. Nothing amazing, but still a good plot and a unique topic. I learned a lot about something that I don't think many people know very much about and I liked getting to see behind the curtain to what really happens at a compound. I'd recommend this book if you're looking for a quick and educational read.



  1. I like this traveling to teens book tour. The reviews on this book have been kind of so-so like up and down from the book tour. Thanks for the review!

  2. *getting my ice water ready...jk

    I think you have a valid point with complaints 2 and 3. I would have liked for the book to be longer as well. I really wanted to know what was going to happen to Kyra once she was outside of the compound.

  3. Good review. I've seen a bunch of positive reviews about this one so it was nice to read a review that wasn't "OMG. This book is amazing!". I'm still really intrigued in the book. Hopefully I can get it from someone just to see if I like it or not.

  4. That definitely seems like an interesting topic but even though a book has an interesting topic doesn't mean it'll be good. I've learned that before with the book Elsewhere. Even though it was a good book, I was expecting more considering the fascinating topic. Great review :)


Pour your heart out. :)