The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams is a story about Kyra, a girl who is 13 and lives in a polygamous sect in Utah. Her father has three wives and she has 20 brothers and sisters. She loves her mother and father and siblings and has grown up in a sheltered environment where there is no TV, cell phones, or books (other than the Bible). After her chores are done Kyra occasionally slips away to be by herself by climbing the trees along the country road. This is how she discovers the library bookmobile that travels along that road in its rounds through the county. Kyra makes friends with the bookmobile driver, begins reading books in secret, and this opens up her world to new things.
There is a boy that Kyra likes, Joshua, and she hopes that they can be together. Her world is rocked, in a bad way, when the Prophet of the sect decides that Kyra will marry her 60 year old uncle, who already has six wives, and is an elder in the sect. This is a horrible situation where Kyra has no good choices.
This is sadly a real world situation for some girls who grow up in a male dominated culture where religion and god are used to justify treating them as objects to be controlled and given away as rewards. Telling the story from Kyra’s point of view is very powerful. I listened to the audio version of the book and Jenna Lamia, the reader, excellently brought Kyra, her situation, feelings, and actions to life. The story was very powerful and the reader made it even more so.
One of the values of literature for young adults, for all of us really, is that we can see and understand issues through the experiences of the characters in the story. The story deals with difficult themes and I imagine it was difficult to write. It is a gripping and thought-provoking story without being like a soap opera.