Saturday, August 08, 2009

The Chosen One, by Carol Lynch Williams

Thirteen year-old Kyra lives in an isolated polygamist compound with her mothers and siblings. She's accepted for most of her life that everything around her (the isolation, patriarchy, authoritarian leaders, etc.) are natural, but she still has an independent streak that leads her to sneak out and read books and carry on a clandestine relationship with a boy her age in the compound. When it is announced that she must marry her uncle (who is 50 years older than her), she rebels. In rebellion, she discovers the ugly side of her community and her faith.

A suspenseful and fast-paced novel that pulls out most of the usual stereotypesabout cults and isolated sects (no major originality here!) and obviously inspired by real-life events of a year ago. Kyra makes a symapthetic and intelligent heroine, but I never got a sense for why she stayed around as long as she did (the answers are fairly obvious - family and faith - but nothing is really drawn out in this story). This made her motivations a bit muddled and I found myself mostly tracking the story and waiting for the great escape that I was sure would come. The result is that the book is decent entertainment but won't really get you inside of anyone's head. for a better example of a similar story, see The Patron Saint of Butterflies.

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