Kyra is a 13 year old girl thirsty for freedom and knowledge. Befriended by the driver of the library mobile van, Kyra sneaks books off to her room 1 at a time, and she even dares to have a crush on a boy her age named Joshua. The problem you ask? Kyra has one father, three mothers and 20 brothers and sisters in a small and isolated Mormon community in Utah. One night, Kyra’s family eagerly waits for the Prophet to make an appearance at their house, they are all hopeful that Kyra’s father will be named an Apostle. Instead, 13 year old Kyra is told that because of a vision, she will marry her uncle Hyrum, who is 60 years old. The rest of the novel is an inner monologue of 1 v. many, or Kyra having to make the terrifying decision to either save her life and run away, or save her family’s life and stay and follow orders.
This book is really intense. Other reviewers talked about how angry this book made them, but I didn’t realize just how much. I even snapped at my own boyfriend for trying to crack jokes while I was reading this book. Carol Lynch Williams handles the entire situation of this book wonderfully. The violence, the mental and physical abuse, the hope, the sadness, everything is written with an eloquence unexpected of a teen novel. Kyra is mature for her age, but I have a feeling most mormon girls are mature at that age, given that its the marrying age. Her inner struggle is amazing to watch as it unravels over the course of the book as you see how one small decision to us can lead to a domino effect of fear. What I found ironic was when her dad would tell her “we are safe here”. Safe from what? The God Squad that beats women who voice an opinion, who murder innocents? They live in fear in their own secluded world, but are more fearful of the unknown. Although the prophet is the one who ordered that all books be burned, I’m sure he must have read Machiaveli’s The Prince, because he made great use of the ideas found in that little booklet. The leadership tactics of the “new prophet” who took over when his father died reminded me of the Islamic regime that took over in Iran when the president was virtually outsed from the community. Little by little, civil rights were taken away from women, forced to lose their jobs and be forced to stay home and cover up. Kyra’s family is not safe on the reservation, not when pregnant women who die during childbirth are considered sinners, when premmie babies are considered sinners, when 13 year old girls are hoarded by ugly, angry old men and are forced to lose all sense of themselves in this world.
- I highly recommend this book, it is a quick but captivating read.