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The Chosen One
Cover of The Chosen One
The Chosen One
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Carol Lynch Willams' The Chosen One is a dazzling novel about a young teenager's rebellion from the polygamist cult that would have her become the seventh wife to her 60-year-old uncle

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, with two more on the way. That is, 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 Joshua, the boy she hopes to choose for herself instead of having a man chosen for her.

But when the Prophet decrees that she 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 forever.


PLUS SPECIAL BONUS CONTENT: FIRST CHAPTER "SNEAK PEEK" OF CAROL LYNCH WILLIAMS'S MILES FROM ORDINARY.
"Imagine Anna Quindlen or Sue Miller turning her attention to writing a young adult novel, and you have an idea what [Williams] has done for early teen readers..." —Audrey Couloumbis, author of the Newbery Honor Book Getting Close to Baby
Thirteen-year-old Lacey wakes to a beautiful summer morning excited to begin her new job at the library, just as her mother is supposed to start work at the grocery store. Lacey hopes that her mother's ghosts have finally been laid to rest; after all, she seems so much better these days, and they really do need the money. But as the hours tick by and memories come flooding back, a day full of hope spins terrifyingly out of control....

"No one can get inside the head and heart of a 13-year-old girl better than Carol Lynch Williams, and I mean no one," said James S. Jacobs, Professor of Children's Literature at Brigham Young University, of her breakout novel, The Chosen One. Now this award-winning YA author brings us an equally gripping story of a girl who loves her mother, but must face the truth of what life with that mother means for both of them.

Carol Lynch Willams' The Chosen One is a dazzling novel about a young teenager's rebellion from the polygamist cult that would have her become the seventh wife to her 60-year-old uncle

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, with two more on the way. That is, 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 Joshua, the boy she hopes to choose for herself instead of having a man chosen for her.

But when the Prophet decrees that she 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 forever.


PLUS SPECIAL BONUS CONTENT: FIRST CHAPTER "SNEAK PEEK" OF CAROL LYNCH WILLIAMS'S MILES FROM ORDINARY.
"Imagine Anna Quindlen or Sue Miller turning her attention to writing a young adult novel, and you have an idea what [Williams] has done for early teen readers..." —Audrey Couloumbis, author of the Newbery Honor Book Getting Close to Baby
Thirteen-year-old Lacey wakes to a beautiful summer morning excited to begin her new job at the library, just as her mother is supposed to start work at the grocery store. Lacey hopes that her mother's ghosts have finally been laid to rest; after all, she seems so much better these days, and they really do need the money. But as the hours tick by and memories come flooding back, a day full of hope spins terrifyingly out of control....

"No one can get inside the head and heart of a 13-year-old girl better than Carol Lynch Williams, and I mean no one," said James S. Jacobs, Professor of Children's Literature at Brigham Young University, of her breakout novel, The Chosen One. Now this award-winning YA author brings us an equally gripping story of a girl who loves her mother, but must face the truth of what life with that mother means for both of them.

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Awards-
Excerpts-
  • Copyright © 2009 by Carol Lynch Williams.

    Published in May 2009 by St. Martin's Press.

    All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction...

    Chapter One

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

    I look into Mariah's light green eyes.

    She stares back at me and smiles, like she knows what I mean and agrees. Like she's saying, "Go on, Kyra. Tell me more."

    I kick the toe of my sneaker into the desert sand. Even this late in the evening, with the sun sinking over my shoulder, the ground is leftover hot from the day. I can feel the heat through the soles of my shoes. Feel the heat coming up from the ground, through my tights, right under the skirt of my past-the-knees dress. There isn't even a bit of a breeze.

    "I'm not sure how I'd kill him. Yet." I pause so Mariah can see I am dead serious. Then I take in a big breath of air and plow ahead. "But once he's gone, I'd drag his body right next to a termite nest. Not a thing would be left of him in three hours. There're termites in Africa that can do that. No one would ever know what happened."

    Again I pause. I look off toward the setting sun that has changed the desert from orange to deep red. Not quite the color of blood, but close enough. Overhead, stars start to fill the eastern sky. Just bits of light. I shrug.

    "All of him would be gone. Every speck. No evidence left."

    Mariah smiles at me again and lets out a bit of baby laughter. I shift her from one hip to the other, then lean close, smelling powder and, from the desert around me, sage. I touch my lips to her face so soft and smooth. Eight months old, this baby, my youngest sister, is as sweet as new butter. And just as fat. I love her.

    Oh. I love her.

    "I'd kill him first for me," I say into her cheek, my lips still resting there, my eyes closed. "And then I'd kill him for you. Then I'd kill him for the rest of our sisters. And our mothers. And the other women here . . ."

    "Kyra."

    I jump.

    Mother Claire's voice carries out over the sand and rock and brush that make up this part of our land surrounding the Compound. The sound is so clear and sharp and near, I worry maybe she's heard me.

    "Kyra," Mother Claire calls again. She stands on the porch to her trailer, the light of her place spilling out around her. Her hands are on her hips. "I see you out there. Come inside. You know we have company coming in a few minutes. Get in here now."

    "Coming," I say, but not loud at all.

    Mother Claire is the mean one. She's Mariah's mother, my father's first wife. My true mother, Mother Sarah, is sick in bed with pregnancy. She would stand up to this wife, at least for me. She has before. But she can't right now because she's not well.

    Mariah lets out a gurgle. In the lingering light I can see that she's sleepy. Sleepy from my swaying and the heat and my voice, maybe. She puts her head on my shoulder and lets out a big yawn.

    "Lucky girl," I say. "You might sleep through this to night."

    AFTER I HELP Mother Sarah get the younger girls ready for our visitors, I check on her. She's stretched out on the sofa, her face white, her belly six- months big.

    "Mother," I say. I pet her long blond hair. "Can I go outside? Just a few minutes? Everything's done."

    What I'd like to do is play the piano, bring Mozart to life for the time we have until Prophet Childs shows. But the Fellowship Hall is closed now.

    Mother looks at me with eyes blue as the evening sky. "What are you going to do, Kyra?" she says....

About the Author-
  • Carol Lynch Williams is the author of young adult novels including Miles from Ordinary and The Chosen One, which was named one of 2010 ALA's "Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers" and "Best Books for Young Adult Readers." It also won the Whitney and the Association of Mormon Letters awards for the best young adult fiction of the year, as well as numerous other honors. Williams was the winner of the 2009 PEN/Phyllis Naylor Working Writer Fellowship and the 2013 Whitney Award for Outstanding Achievement. She grew up in Florida and now lives in Utah.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from May 25, 2009
    Williams strikes just the right balance between informative and cautionary in this gripping tale about a 13-year-old girl trapped in a polygamist cult. At first, Kyra's struggles center around her situation—a lack of privacy, too many mothers and the urge to experiment with various sins (reading books besides scripture, exploring outside the compound, kissing a boy). But when she's “chosen” to be the seventh wife of her brutish, 60-something uncle, Kyra's desperation to be somewhere (or someone) else escalates (“God has given you to me, Kyra Leigh,” her uncle tells her. “You will
    do what He says. What the Prophet says. What I
    say”). Is she brave enough to run away from the community that has sheltered her since birth? Although the ending verges on the sensational, Williams (Pretty Like Us
    ) takes such care in crafting Kyra's internal struggles—and her hellacious story—that the ensuing drama rings true. Williams's highlighting all aspects of cult membership (fear of leaving, desire to belong, guilt about sinning), rather than relying on one-sided generalizations (cults are bad), makes this a prudent and powerful read. Ages 12–up.

  • School Library Journal

    July 1, 2009
    Gr 7 Up-In this thriller, 13-year-old Kyra lives in an isolated polygamist cult. Life in the compound is as dry as the surrounding desert, more confining than the chain-link fence on its perimeter. But Kyra finds small freedoms despite the tightly controlled communal environment and is able to slip outside to wander the desert. There she chances upon a friendly book-mobile driver who opens the world of childrens literature to her. Kyra even begins a flirtation with her classmate, Joshua, a dangerous sin for which they will both pay dearly. The brutal leader, Prophet Childs, has plans for Kyra and will brook no disobedience. He assigns her to be the seventh wife of her own 60-year-old uncle. Repelled, she resists. She and Joshua are badly beaten and she is told that other young people have been killed for taking a similarly defiant stand. Kyras loving father is powerless to help her and counsels her to accept her fate, but she cannot. The story ends in a high-speed chase with the Prophets goons gunning for her as she improbably races toward freedom in the blood-spattered book mobile. Has the friendly driver been killed on her account? Is anyone looking for him? What retribution will be taken on her family and what kind of a life lies ahead for her? These unsettling questions are not addressed, but these omissions do not diminish the relief of her successful escape. For a more layered examination of the internal as well as external struggles of a young teen coming of age in a polygamist community, see Shelley Hrdlitschkas "Sister Wife" (Orca, 2008)."Carolyn Lehman, Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA"

    Copyright 2009 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • The New York Times Book Review (Editor's Choice)

    "Fiction can offer emotional truth where other tools fail ....Williams, herself a Mormon, unveils life among the Chosen (a fictitious theocracy) with spare, evocative writing and an honest sense of character that helps bridge the rift between Kyra's world and ours.... The cinematic drama of [her life...is a means to reach a quieter truth, revealing that moment in childhood when you recognize your thoughts as your own and discover forces in the world that your parents cannot -- or will not -- protect you from."

  • Booklist "...this is a heart pounder, and readers will be held, especially as the danger escalates. Williams' portrayals of the family are sharp, but what's most interesting about this book is how the yearnings and fears of a character so far from what most YAs know will still seem familiar and close."
  • Gregory Maguire, the New York Times bestselling author of Wicked and A Lion Among Men "The Chosen One makes the heart race, the teeth grind, and the brow bead up in sweat. Carol Lynch Williams presents a first-person narrative that gallops just behind--or perhaps in advance of--contemporary headlines about the manipulation of the innocent. I could choose no other book or newspaper until I had finished the final page."
  • Meg Cabot, New York Times bestselling author of The Princess Diaries and Airhead "A powerful and heartbreaking novel of love and hope. One girl's poignant journey as she struggles to find herself and, ultimately, the truth."
  • Cynthia Kadohata, winner of the 2005 Newbery Medal for Kira-Kira "The Chosen One is absolutely riveting and perfectly formed. I had planned to read just a few pages one evening before bed, and I ended up staying awake until four in the morning to finish it! It's a wonderful book."
  • Kathi Appelt, author of The Underneath, Finalist for the 2008 National Book Award for Young People's Literature "In this extraordinary story, Carol Lynch Williams probes the deepest wells of the heart. Against the intertwining prism of faith and love she gives us Kyra, a young woman who meets head-on the power of both to simultaneously buoy and corrupt the human spirit. The Chosen One is brave, its plumb is true, it's a masterpiece."
  • Michael Cart, Booklist columnist and former president, Young Adult Library Services Association "Carol Lynch Williams' chilling novel of life in a polygamous sect is both harrowing in its unsparing realism and hopeful in its reaffirmation of the power that books and reading have to change and redeem lives at risk. An important book, sure to provoke spirited discussion."
  • David Ebershoff, the New York Times bestselling author of The 19th Wife "Powerful and unforgettable, The Chosen One will break your heart because its story is all too real."
  • An Na, author of A Step From Heaven, winner of the 2002 Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature "Truly thought provoking, heartfelt and just a plain old good read about a culture and religion that we know very little about these days except through the media."
  • Sara Zarr, author of the 2007 National Book Award Finalist Story of a Girl "An unsettling and courageous story about one girl who sacrifices everything familiar in her search for freedom--physical freedom and, more importantly, freedom of the heart and mind. Though the book is chilling from page one, Carol Lynch Williams' economic and poetic use of language makes this potentially sensational story somehow beautiful, compassionate, and full of hope in the midst of tremendous loss. This is not a black and white exposé of cults, but a complex exploration of the ties that bind us to places and people that hurt us, the wrenching decisions we sometimes must make in order to survive, and the saving power of the truth, no matter how difficult it may be to bear."
  • Cynthia Leitich Smith, author of Tantalize and Eternal "A timely story . . . A poetic, penetrating, heart-wrenching, and ultimately inspiring read."
  • Deb Caletti, author of the National Book Award finalist Honey, Baby, Sweetheart "Skilled writing, a narrator you root for, and [a] compelling glimpse into a secret world."
  • Elizabeth Bird, A Fuse #8 Production (School Library Journal blog) "An absolute page-turner."
  • Audrey Couloumbis, author of the Newbery Honor Book Getting Near to Baby "Imagine Anna Quindlen or Sue Miller turning her attention to writing a young adult novel. . . . Be forewarned: This book is a compulsive read."
  • M. Jerry Weis, Distinguished Service Professor, New Jersey City University, and past president of ALAN "No doubt about it, THE CHOSEN ONE is one of the best books of the year! I couldn't put it down. Carol Lynch Williams grabs you with her literary talents and never lets you go. Kyra still haunts me. I'll be talking about this book in workshops all year long."
  • Sandra Dallas, author of Prayers for Sale "Kyra reminds me of my high school classmate in Utah who married her sister's husband and descended into a netherworld of poverty, abuse, and humiliation. Carol Lynch Williams' remarkable story of Kyra's fight to free herself from a culture that degrades and dehu
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