The Chosen One
by Carol Lynch Williams
Publishing Information: St. Martin's Griffin: New York, 2009
ISBN: 9780312555115 / 9780312627751 (PB) / 9781427207067 (Audio) / 9780792765547 (eBook)
Pages: 288 p.
Ages: 13 & Up
13-year-old Kyra must decide whether to obey the heads of her church and become the 7th wife of her older uncle, or to try to leave the strict polygamous community that is all she has ever known.
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
In a very structured religious community, Kyra lives with her father, three mothers, and twenty brothers and sisters. Every aspect of life is ruled by Prophet Child and his God Squad. Those who hesitate to follow instructions or break the rules are brutally punished, even the toddlers.
Independent in spirit, willing to risk punishment, thirteen-year-old Kyra squeezes through a break in the perimeter's chain link fence and wanders the desolate area outside the compound. One day a mobile library stops by the road. Though the prophet has ordered all books burned, Kyra gets a library card, hides the books, and discovers a whole new world.
Kyra has also been risking punishment by meeting with a boy in the compound, Joshua. She hopes that the prophet will let them marry some day.
When the prophet suddenly decrees that Kyra is to marry her sixty-year-old uncle Hyrum, a brutewith six wives already, her father begs the prophet to reconsider and is threatened. When Joshua speaks to the prophet, he is severely beaten and flees the compound.
Kyra knows there is a life outside the fence. But escaping means betraying her family and putting them in danger. Just how far will Prophet Child go to control a thirteen-year-old girl?
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Awards & Reviews:
Amelia Bloomer Project Lists, 2010
Maine Best Fiction for Young Adults, 2010
Maine Student Book Award Nominees, 2011
Missouri Gateway Readers Award Nominees, 2012
Misouri Truman Award Nominees, 2012
Pennsylvania Young Reader's CHoice Award Nominees, 2011
South Carolina Young adult Book Award Nominees, 2012
Texas Tayshas Reading List, 2011
Utah Beehive Award Nominees, 2011
Young Adult Library Services Association Best Books for Young Adults, 2010
Young Adult Library Services Assocation Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers, 2010
Booklist, February 15, 2009
Horn Book, May 1, 2009
Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 2009
New York Times Book Review, June 14, 2009
Publishers Weekly, May 25, 2009 (Starred Review)
School Library Journal, July 1, 2009
VOYA: Voice of Youth Advocates, June 1, 2009 (Starred Review)
Discussion Questions and Ideas:
- Kyra’s first move towards rebellion was reading forbidden books – why do you think she had the courage to read them? Is it plausible that a character so accepting of the rules of their society would break those rules?
- Do you think it is ever acceptable to kill in order to enforce religious law?
- While Kyra’s story is fictional, there has been a lot of coverage of polygamous groups under investigation for statutory rape. In the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, according to the New York Times, “The church settlement is essentially one town crossing the border, a jumble of walled compounds, trailers and farm fields at the base of spectacular red bluffs. Nearly all of the 6,000 residents follow the dictates of Mr. Jeffs, who they believe speaks for God; women wear ankle-length dresses, and children are taught to run away from outsiders.
Mr. Jeffs, 51, is in the Purgatory jail in southern Utah, his trial scheduled to start on Sept. 10 on charges of being an accomplice to rape, for his role in forcing a 14-year-old girl to marry an older cousin.”
What do you think should happen in these real-life cases?
- Another big problem on these compounds is that there are not enough girls to go around, leading young boys to be abandoned in a world they don’t understand. “Over the last six years, hundreds of teenage boys have been expelled or felt compelled to leave the polygamous settlement that straddles Colorado City, Ariz., and Hildale, Utah.
Disobedience is usually the reason given for expulsion, but former sect members and state legal officials say the exodus of males — the expulsion of girls is rarer — also remedies a huge imbalance in the marriage market. Members of the sect believe that to reach eternal salvation, men are supposed to have at least three wives.”
If you were a young man growing up in this environment, would you worry about what would happen to you?
- “Polygamy can be practiced as polygyny (one man having more than one wife), or as polyandry (one woman having more than one husband), or, less commonly as group marriage (a marriage which includes multiple husbands and wives).” Why do you think polygyny is the most common of these situations?
Author's Website - http://www.carollynchwilliams.com
The Child Projection Project – http://www.childpro.org
The HOPE Organization – http://www.childbrides.org
Utah Attorney General's Office: Polygamy - http://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/protecting-utah/from_crime/polygamy/
Articles of interest:
“Polygamy in Arizona: The Wages of Sin”, by John Dougherty, Phoenix New Times, April 10, 2003. Full text available here
“Seeking Shelter in a Storm: Amid Flurry of Controversy, Girls Flee Polygamous Enclave”, by Betty Webb, East Valley Tribune.
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Charismatic Cult Leaders by Thomas Streissguth, 1995
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Other Books by the Author:
Pretty Like Us, 2008
Walk to Hope, 2004
A Mother to Embarrass Me, 2003
Christmas in Heaven, 2000
Carolina Autumn, 2000
1857, The Golden Trail, 2000
Laura’s Box of Treasures, 1999
My Angelica, 1999
If I Forget, You Remember, 1998
Victoria’s Courage, 1998
Catherine’s Remembrance, 1997
Caroline’s Secret, 1997
The True Colors of Caitlynne Jackson, 1997
Marciea's Melody, 1996
Esther's Celebration, 1996
Adeline Street, 1995
Sarah's Quest, 1995
Anna's Gift, 1995
Laurel's Flight, 1995
Kelly and Me, 1993
About the Author:
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.