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ATTENTION: Journalist, Producers, Reviewers
SUBJECTS: Teen Fiction, Books, Family & Relationships, Women, Polygamy, Religion, Features, News/Talk
INTERVIEW: Carol Lynch Williams, author of The Chosen One, a critically acclaimed new work of teen fiction from St. Martin's Press which sensitively deals with the controversial subject matter of polygamy and child brides. To be reviewed in the June 14 issue of the Sunday New York Times Book Review.
New York Times Book Review, Sunday, June 14, 2009
Spare evocative writing and an honest sense of character that helps bridge the rift between Kyra's world and ours...
Gregory Maguire, author of Wicked
The Chosen One makes the heart race, the teeth grind, and the brow bead up in sweat.
Meg Cabot, author of The Princess Diaries
A powerful and heartbreaking novel of love and hope.
The Buzz About This Book is Big:
The Chosen One
by Carol Lynch Williams
The Story of a Girl Trapped in a Polygamist Cult:
She Must Choose Between Her Family or Freedom
June 8, 2009, New York, New
York. The Chosen One, a work of teen fiction by Carol Lynch Williams, just published by
St. Martin’s Press in May 2009, is receiving passionate acclaim from critics, authors,
librarians, booksellers, teachers, and readers. It tells the story of a 13-year-old girl,
Kyra, trapped in a polygamist cult and chosen to marry her 60-year-old uncle.
The Chosen One will be reviewed in the June 14 New York Times Book Review. Says Times reviewer Jessica Bruder in a review that links The Chosen One with another book on similar theme:
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 their lives,...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.
Recently, The Chosen One received a Publishers Weekly starred review well
as two award nominations from the Young Adult Library Services Association: the 2010 Best
Books for Young Adult Readers and the Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers. It
has also been selected for the American Booksellers Association Summer 2009 Children's
Indie Next List (Indie refers to independent booksellers).
Publishers Weekly STARRED REVIEW 5-25-09:
A gripping tale and powerful read
Kyra's terrible dilemma-escaping her fate means betraying her family-is heartbreakingly real, and the final scenes are riveting and suspenseful.
CAROL LYNCH WILLIAMS, a four-time winner of the Utah Original Writing
Competition and winner of Nebraska's Golden Sower Award, grew up in Florida but now lives
in Utah with her husband and seven children. She has an MFA in Writing for Children and
Young Adults, and helped develop the conference on Writing and Illustrating for Young
Readers at Brigham Young University.
Williams is one of several Mormon women writers who have been successful recently in the Young Adult genre, the best known one being Stephenie Meyer of the "Twilight" series which has sold 28 million copies.
Further information is available at:
Praise for The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams
Kathi Appelt, author, The Underneath, Finalist 2008 National Book
Award for Young People’s Literature
...Brave, its plumb is true, it's a masterpiece.
Michael Cart, Booklist columnist, 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.
Elizabeth Bluemle, Flying Pig Books, Shelburne, VT
Williams has done an amazing job of bringing some ugly truths to light, while celebrating the resilience, love, and spirit of the young women who survive the experience.
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'sstruggles 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. (May)
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Intensely gripping and grippingly intense, the story begins with a gasp when Prophet Childs, the leader of a sect called The Chosen Ones, comes to visit the almost-14-year-old Kyra Leigh Carlson and her family to impart the "joyous news" that she's to become the seventh wife of her father's brother, a much older church apostle. Kyra, who lives with her father, three mothers and 21 brothers and sisters in a closely guarded, hyper-religious, polygamous compound, is horrified. The prohibited books she surreptitiously reads have opened her eyes to the wider world, and she has been hoping to marry a young sect member who's been secretly courting her. The forced marriage brings with it more than a whiff of child rape, though Williams unnecessarily pushes every button by also depicting the church hierarchy as murderers who use their religiosity to sadistically control and humiliate their parishioners. Nonetheless, Kyra's terrible dilemma-escaping her fate means betraying her family-is heartbreakingly real, and the final scenes are riveting and suspenseful. (Fiction. 12 & up)
…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.
Search for The Chosen One on Facebook.com or
Of Related Interest:
Boston Globe Article:
Faith and good works
Mormon writers find their niche in wholesome young adult genre
The Chosen One
Carol Lynch Williams
St. Martin's Griffin
Published: May 2009
Trim: 5 ½ x 8 1/4 inches
224 pages. $16.95
Young Adult Readers, Ages 12 & Up
Q.&A. With Author Carol Lynch Williams
Q: Where did you first get the idea to write The Chosen One?
A: Many years ago I heard of a young woman who ran from her polygamist community. She was dragged home, beaten and yet she ran again. I knew at that moment, at least a decade ago, that I would write this novel. One of my goals in writing the book was to show the difference between polygamist groups and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints of which I am a member. Some people still think that most men in Utah have more than one wife. Polygamists are not Latter-day Saints. I wanted to show that in my book.
Q: Around the time you were starting to write the book, your daughter brought home a young man whose polygamous father was in jail. In what ways did this boy's continued presence in your life affect the direction of the book?
A: When Chris came into our lives I was, indeed, just beginning the novel. I asked him a few questions, but Chris' life was, in many ways, very different from Kyra's. He didn’t live on a compound (though his family did live out in the desert away from people), he was allowed to choose how he believed when he got older, and while life proved to be pretty tough for him, he didn't have to fight quite as hard for "freedom" as Kyra does.
Q: How did you go about researching polygamous cults? Did any of the strong, yet violent scenes, such as the punishment of baby Mariah, Kyra’s beating, and Kyra's and Patrick's run from the "God Squad" come from any real-life stories?
A: I did a huge amount of research before and during the writing. There are many different kinds of polygamist groups around the world. So while this book is grounded in fact, it is still fiction. Patrick's story is made up, but another writer who was doing research for a book about polygamy told me about disciplining children by dunking them in ice water. I've also heard of crying babies being squirted in the face with water until they learn to not cry at all. As indicated by the news report about the young girl who was beaten when she ran from her polygamist community, the beatings do take place. As far as research: I looked up everything I could online. This was a few years back, before the Warren Jeffs arrest. And it was kind of weird, because when I knew I was ready to start writing, it suddenly seemed that TV was full of stories of polygamists. I watched several nationwide news programs, read many newspaper articles, and read both positive and negative accounts of polygamy.
For further information contact:
Susannah Greenberg, Public Relations, (212) 208-4629, firstname.lastname@example.org