The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams

That (ridiculous, highly inconvenient, yet time-saving) limited-internet challenge is finally over, and I’m back with a review for a book so good I had to read it twice. Later this week I’ll do a post or two on what the limited-internet challenge taught me (if anything). But for now, feast your readers on a book that is, well, wonderful.

The set-up: Thirteen-year-old Kyra lives in an isolated Compound with her mother, her father, her father’s two other wives, and her twenty brothers and sisters. She is content (barely) with her piano playing, her secret love for Joshua, and her secret visits to a library-on-wheels…until the Prophet (the dude in charge of their community of “Chosen Ones”) says that Kyra must marry her sixty-year-old uncle.

Main character’s goals: Once she is told she has to marry Uncle Hyrum, Kyra wants OUT. Her goal is to avoid that wedding at all costs.

My reaction: Unsurprisingly, this book evokes a strong visceral reaction. We have polygamy, we’ve got young brides, lots of babies. We’ve got book burning, forbidden love, child abuse, murder. The first time through, I had to read it in one sitting (thankfully the novel is somewhat short), because the premise alone made my gut clench.

The child abuse thing almost had me putting the book down – it got a little too gut-wrenching at one point. In fact, I still can’t think about that scene. In fact, I’m writing scenes in my head where the jerks who do it get in Big Trouble. Jail would be too kind for them.

Of interest to writers: What a hook! Damn, this is a sensationalistic idea but it is tastefully done. Kyra’s voice is strong and authentic. Watch especially for the melding of lyrical prose and cannot-put-it-down tension. A-MAZ-ING.

Also, great first line: “If I was going to kill the Prophet,” I say, not even keeping my voice low, “I’d do it in Africa.” May we all have such grabbers at the beginnings of our manuscripts.

Bottom Line: It’s a(n) [enter your favorite positive adjective here…none of mine seem to do it justice] book. I read it twice.


  1. Dana · February 7, 2011

    Welcome back to the internet!

  2. Neda · February 7, 2011

    Putting it on my list!

  3. Vicki · February 13, 2011

    I’ll consider it – but the gut-wrenching child abuse part I may have to skip…oy.

    • Beth Hull · February 14, 2011

      Maybe I should have marked the pages of the gut-wrenching child abuse and told people to stay away from those few pages, because the rest of the book is amazing!

  4. Pingback: Danger. Have Book. Will Ignore. Everything. « Nebula

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