The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams captivated me from the moment I started listening to it. For one thing, the topic — that of a fundamentalist polygamist religious cult — is curious and interesting. But I think that what made this story ring true was the grace and delicacy with which the author handled this topic. Yes — they are different — odd, and most-certainly off-track, but the story reinforces our similarities in the midst of our very-apparent differences. Regardless of what kind of community we live in parents want to nurture and protect our children, and teenagers struggle with obedience and rebellion, and ultimately they have to learn to make their own decisions.
Yes, Kyra’s decision which fuels her rebellion and questioning of her parents’ values is different from ours. Kyra has been told that she has been chosen (for marriage) as a sixth wife to her father’s brother. He’s her uncle, and he’s over 60. Kyra won’t do it, and because of the extreme circumstances (Kyra’s youth, being not-quite 14, and the fact that it’s a close relative), her parents don’t think that she should have to do it either.
The story unfolds beautifully, showing just how similar and how very different Kyra is from other teens. We don’t know until the very end what choice Kyra will make or how she will make it.
The second reason that I loved it is simple: the writing was beautiful. I think that juvenile literature affords the writer some poetic license that authors of adult fiction are sometimes afraid to employ. For example:
“Mmmm,” I say, breathing deep and closing my eyes. It smells so good to be by myself here (page 6, about her secret place hidden under a tree).
I hide near their chicken coop, the smells so thick I could have hurled them at someone (page 29).
Okay, so there’s lots of smelling (and lots of hiding as it seems), but it’s descriptive, don’t you agree?
A third reason that I especially enjoyed this book was that the audio performance as read by Jenna Lamia was really excellent. For me the audiobook is a completely different genre and offers the best of both worlds in a media experience — the beauty of an unadulterated book, and yet the fine production of a great play or movie.
This is a great story that is sure to appeal to tweens and teens, but honestly, it’s a story that adult readers will enjoy as well. If you have tweens and teens in your house*, the audiobook would be a perfect way to while away a few hours on a roadtrip, or to enjoy as a family in the evenings as an alternative to the boob tube. Audiobooks can be pricey, but Amazon has partnered with audible in some way and now offers great prices on the download.
Especially if you have some road trips in your future, now might be a great time to try out a few months of an audible.com membership as well. The Chosen One is available there as well, and you could get it as your first download.
Read all sorts of praise for The Chosen One, download a discussion guide, or listen to an excerpt of the excellent audio narration by Jenna Lamia at Macmillan.com.
*Content — I wasn’t sure what she’d think, but I decided to let my 5th grader Amanda listen to it as well. Before she listened, we talked about cults and misplaced religious faith. I was worried about that topic until I thought of the type of content she had tackled in books this year such as Uglies and the Hunger Games. There is a fair amount of yearning and burning (in fact, Amanda says that there’s lots of yearning), within the context of Kyra’s unrequieted love interest. You can make your own decisions about the appropriateness of it for your children, but it seems to be working for Amanda.
If you’d like to win this audiobook from MacMillian Audio, leave a comment here. We have three copies of the CDs that can be sent to any U.S. or Canadian shipping address.
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