Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Anthropology and The Chosen One

The Chosen One, Carol Lynch Williams. 2009.

Because I try to avoid "after hoc therefore something else hoc" fallacies, I'm not going to tell you that The Chosen One is responsible for the bad dreams I had after I read it.

But still.

I'm just sayin'.

If this book were a Feministe post, it would come with "trigger warning" at the top. This is a disturbing story, but it's also one that grabs hold of you.

Kyra is thirteen, and she's about to be married off to her uncle, who already has far more wives than is good for him. But this is an isolated polygamist community, and Kyra's uncle is one of the more powerful men, so she doesn't get much say.

She tries to resist. And she gets some support at home, especially from her father. He's the one who stands to lose the most by Kyra's resistance, and Carol Lynch Williams does a great job showing his internal dilemma - how long can his daughter's interests come ahead of his own?

An Edible History of Humanity isn't the first book you'd link this to, not like The Rapture of Canaan or Lucy Peale, but give me a chance: One of the ideas Tom Standage touches on is the relationship between agriculture and hierarchical societies. The theory is that as people switched from hunting and gathering to agriculture, they became sedentary and acquired possessions that they wanted to hold onto, so they weren't as likely to get up and relocate when a new leader claimed power or new privileges - and eventually we got monarchies and dictatorships.

Think about that as you read Kyra's descriptions of how the community has changed, and think about why even her father can't do much to help.

Other reviews and discussion:
Becky's Book Reviews (plus an author interview)
The Brain Lair
A Chair, A Fireplace & a Tea Cozy
The Stories of a Girl
YA Authors Cafe (author interview)
Cynsations (author interview)

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