The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams
A guest review from Teen Room staff Marisa!
The Chosen One tells the story of 13 year old Kyra, raised in an isolated religious community. Her kind and devout father struggles to care for her three mothers and nineteen siblings, but Kyra doesn't question their life in the community until the Prophet tells her that she is to marry her 60 year old uncle, who already has six wives. Kyra believes that God is punishing her for secretly reading books from outside of the community, where the only reading material allowed is the Bible, and her relationship with a boy close to her age, Joshua. She attempted to end her engagement and debates whether to stay or attempt escape, which could cause her death if she were caught or consequences for her family and her younger sisters. Violent discipline of difficult babies and murder of those with disabilities reminded me of The Giver, and the community is founded under the same utopian ideals. Elites oppressed most people by claiming to know the will of God.
Many issues are raised regarding treatment of women in polygamist communities, and the forced marriage of young girls who weren't willing to raise many children was sickening. The prose in this book was beautiful, and I thought that Kyra and Joshuas' connection was adorable and realistic, as well as surprisingly mature for their age. Kyra's interest in practicing piano was encouraged and a strength to her in the face of violence, which I found interesting. I found her relationship to her least favorite "mother" compelling in its growth throughout the story as Kyra learns how the situation she is facing is dealt with silently by other women. Maybe it's because Kyra is like a younger version of myself, but I became very attached to her almost immediately and was rooting for her to find happiness.