Friday, March 20, 2009

The Chosen One


Williams, Carol Lynch. 2009. The Chosen One. St. Martin's Press. 224 pages. (MAY PUBLICATION)

"If I was going to kill the Prophet," I say, not even keeping my voice low, "I'd do it in Africa."

This one had me at hello, with that first sentence. Even if I wasn't already persuaded by the premise--which I was. (The premise: "Thirteen-year-old Kyra has grown up in an isolated community without questioning the fact that her father has three wives and she has twenty brothers and sisters. Or at least without questioning them much--if you don't count her secret visits to the Mobile Library on Wheels to read forbidden books, or her meetings with the boy she hopes to choose for herself instead of having a man chosen for her. But when the Prophet decrees that Kyra must marry her sixty-year old uncle--who already has six wives--Kyra must make a desperate choice in the face of violence and her own fears of losing her family.")

Several things caught my eye. Primarily the part about her love of reading despite the fact that all books are forbidden...to her and the others in her commune. For it is this love of reading that sustains her, that gives her hope, that gives her joy, that gives her normalcy. Small though it may seem, it is this act of disobedience, this strange-confidence of approaching the outside world, of speaking even briefly with an outsider, that is a catalyst in her life.

If you love books, you'll relate to Kyra. She names a handful of books throughout. The book shows her discovering these books, these characters. Kyra was out walking outside the boundaries of her community when she first notices the mobile library. Two or three weeks she notices him driving by. The third week, he stops. And that changes everything...for better or worse.

Dust billowed up around us. I could taste the dirt. Crunched sand between my teeth.
He rolled down the window. "You want a library card," he said adjusting the ball cap he wore. It wasn't even a question.
And I nodded, like he'd done to me these past weeks.
"You can take four books out at a time," he said when I inched my way into the truck, cooled by fans and air-conditioning.
I'd never seen so many books. Never. The sight made my eyes water. I mean, tear right up.
"Four?" I said. There was that sand on my tongue, gritting between my back teeth.
"Four."
I eyed the man. Eyed the books. Stood still, my heart thumping.
"Maybe just one," I said.
"You could start with this," he said and handed me something from a basket near his feet. "A girl just your age turned it in on my last stop. She said she loved it. I loved it myself."
His last stop? Another girl? He'd read this book?
I took the novel from him and glanced at the cover. Bridge to Terabithia.
I was there just a minute and I only took the one. One, I knew, would be easier to hide.
But oh, how my life changed with his stopping. My life changed when I started reading. I was different with these sinful words.
Who was this Katherine Paterson? Who was this Jesse and Leslie? People the writer knew? I could hardly read this book fast enough.
And when I did
when I got to the end
when I got to the end and
Leslie died
and Jesse was left alone without his best friend
I cried so hard that coming in from my hiding place, my tree, the book stashed in the branches, high in the prickles, Mother Victoria said, "Where have you been, Kyra? I needed help making bread." Then she looked at my face and said, her voice all worried, "Honey, what happened?"
I couldn't tell her a thing. Not about Leslie or May Belle or Jesse all alone. I couldn't tell Mother Victoria a thing about drowing or running or painting.
Instead, I threw my arms around her waist and said, my head on her shoulder, crying my eyeballs out, "I love you so much, Mother Victoria."
Then I set out delivering bread to my other mothers and to Sister Allred, who just had a baby, half-crying the whole way. (15-16)
But this book isn't just a book about a girl who loves to read...it's a book about a girl who's in love with a boy. Joshua Jackson. Their love innocent and pure as it may be is forbidden. Kyra--just thirteen--has been ordered by the Prophet and the elders to marry her uncle. Or else. Or else her family will pay the price for her 'sins'. No one in her family--her father or her mothers--wants to see her married to her creepy-old-uncle. But none are really willing to sacrifice that much for her. (I am not going to tell you what that sacrifice would involve because I think it would be too big a spoiler.)

This book is well-written; fascinating; compelling; powerful. I HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend this one. I just loved it. Loved Kyra. Loved her story. It's an emotional roller coaster, no doubt, but definitely worth it!

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews
If you're reading this post on another site, or another feed, the content has been stolen.

7 comments:

Erika Lynn 1:42 PM  

this book looks really good, thanks for the great review!

Natasha @ Maw Books 6:21 PM  

We just talked about this book at my book club during the week because not only is it getting rave reviews but because Carol Lynch Williams is a local author (I've seen her a couple times at various events). She's doing a signing here and I really, really want to read it before then. Thanks for the review, now I'm even more excited!

Stephanie 2:01 AM  

Another book that went straight to my TBR list! Thanks for the heads-up about this, it sounds amazing!

Toni 1:29 PM  

This sounds like a good one Becky. GREAT REVIEW!

Debi 6:36 PM  

Oh Becky, you're killing me, girl! Another must-have!

The Not So Closet Geeks 4:12 PM  

Your review has me convinced. I have to have this book.

avisannschild 11:53 AM  

Great review! I just mentioned this book and your review in my Friday Finds post. I'm definitely going to read this one!

Post a Comment

I'm always happy to hear from you! To help fight spam, comment moderation has been set up for posts older than two days. Feel free to ask me questions or ask for recommendations!

Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

You should know several things before you contact me:

1) I do not guarantee a review of your book. I am just agreeing to consider it for review.
2) I give all books at least fifty pages.
3) I am not promising anyone (author or publisher) a positive review in exchange for a review copy. That's not how I work.
4) In all of my reviews I strive for honesty. My reviews are my opinions--so yes, they are subjective--you should know my blog will feature both negative and positive reviews.
5) I do not guarantee that I will get to your book immediately. I've got so many books I'm trying to read and review, I can't promise to get to any one book in a given time frame.
6) Emailing me every other week to see if I've read your book won't help me get to it any faster. Though if you want to email me to check and see if it arrived safely, then that's fine!

Authors, publishers. I am interested in interviewing authors and participating in blog tours. (All I ask is that I receive a review copy of the author's latest book beforehand so the interview will be productive. If the book is part of a series, I'd like to review the whole series.) Contact me if you're interested.

Unique Visitors and Google PR Rank

Free PageRank Checker

My Blog List

(Old) Challenge Participants

Becky's Hosting These Challenges

100 Books Project: Fill in the Gaps

Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

  © Blogger template Newspaper III by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP