The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams

Rating: 3.5


The Chosen One from

The Chosen One from

Author: Carol Lynch Williams

Reader: Jenna Lamia

Short Review: A good book about a controversial subject, improved by an excellent reading by Jenna Lamia.

Long Review: Jenna Lamia is a true standout as a narrator, and I plan to seek out her other work. She truly inhabited Kyra, the protagonist, and her excellent reading improved a book which is flawed in some important ways.

I find the subject of the book particularly interesting. My husband’s family lives in Utah, and during our visits there the events and tragedies on the polygamist compounds in Utah and Colorado are always topics of conversation. I’m certainly no expert on polygamist cults, but I’ve read a number of books about Mormon fundamentalists and the history of the region, so I felt like I had a handle on the subject. Williams’ portrayal of the compound felt realistic enough, though I was waiting for her to be even more critical of the systemic abuse against women, girls, and boys at the hands of the elders of such cults. Perhaps my personal views on women’s rights are too radical to align or compare to the author’s. I thought Kyra was an interesting, sympathetic character and I found it easy to root for her, but I felt myself waiting for Kyra to recognize how wronged she and her siblings had been by her family and community.

I found Kyra’s naivete and foolishness particularly frustrating. The fact that she remains so trusting and innocent as the story progresses seems to work in direct contrast to the opening lines of the book. I know I would have enjoyed the paper book less, because I wouldn’t have had Lamia’s great voice and acting to keep me entranced while I was waiting for Kyra to learn to think critically and just be careful. I wanted her to break free of the cult and be safe, yet she kept repeating the same mistakes and neglecting to think of her safety or anyone else’s.

At some points, I was wondering if the author was holding back a bit too much. She certainly turned a harsh eye to the polygamist cult Kyra grew up in, but I felt like she didn’t press the questions of women’s rights far enough. Perhaps the author’s faith prevented her from railing against those forms of oppression that are common not just to polygamist cults but to Christian and Mormon churches in general.