The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams

When driving the long five hours home, I like to take along an audiobook to pass the time. Like many others, TLC’s shows like ‘Sister Wives’ and ’19 Kids and Counting’ fascinates me, so a story about a polygamous community caught my attention. I quickly grabbed ‘The Chosen One’ by Carol Lynch Williams, but I had NO idea what an emotional journey I was about to embark on.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Thirteen-year-old Kyra has grown up in an isolated polygamous community without questioning her father’s three wives and her 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 60-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.

First off, I must say that Jenna Lamia (the narrating voice) did an excellent job.  I am really picky with audiobooks and the voice reading to me has to be just right. With a little research, I found out that Jenna Lamia also narrates Girl With A Pearl Earring, Linger, The Secret Life of Bees and much more!

Immediately, you feel for Kyra. Her first-person narrative is really effective in describing the confining, controlled environment of her polygamist cult.  Throughout the story, we learn just how powerless the women and children are. When her uncle demands Kyra to punish her baby sister by dunking her head in a bucket of ice cold water, I was screaming in fury! Don’t do it Kyra! Don’t do it! That scene was really difficult to listen to, and I found myself tearing up. In the end, I was so proud of Kyra and her decision.

We all face decisions everyday—some simple and some that require a little more thought. For Kyra, her decision to leave her entire family behind, or marry her 60 year old uncle is completely life changing. Listening to her story, you will find yourself rooting for her to overcome her situation. She is a strong character, always standing up for what’s right and what she believes in. She is willing to risk her life for freedom.  Kyra is an amazing spirit and I still can’t get her haunting voice out of my head.

As a librarian, I loved that Kyra would sneak books from her local bookmobile. There is one part where she is reading Harry Potter and she describes feeling magical because the book gives her strength and courage.  This secret freedom of having access to books, allows a whole new world to be revealed to Kyra. However, her freedom to read is destroyed when her compound follows her one day, and targets the friendly bookmobile driver.

Overall, The Chosen One can be overwhelmingly intense. It has an intriguing, fast-paced storyline (especially at the end). I arrived home right at the story’s conclusion and I found myself sitting in my driveway listening to the ending play out. This book is that intense!

Check out the book trailer to listen to a sample of Jenna Lamia’s voice narrating, The Chosen One.

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