icon-copyWelcome to Traveling To Teens first blog tour. 

We are just getting started this month so be patient.  There are likely to be bumps along the way until we find our groove.

Our featured author is
Carol Lynch Williams.

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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.

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THE CHOSEN ONE

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Griffin – May 12, 2009

SYNOPSIS:

Thirteen-year-old Kyra has grown up in an isolated community without questioning the fact that her father has three wives and she has twenty brothers and sisters, with two more on the way. That is, 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 Joshua, the boy she hopes to choose for herself instead of having a man chosen for her.

But when the Prophet decrees that she must marry her sixty-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 forever.

REVIEW:

Kyra has three mothers, one father, and twenty brothers and sisters.  She lives in a compound led by The Prophet, a man who is in “close communication with God.”  Over the years, the compound has become more and more closed off from the outside world.  With the fence that was built around the compound and the mass book burning, any freedom they had is dwindling away.

Kyra is the most headstrong out of all of her siblings.  She sometimes has a difficult time accepting the laws of the community.  Because of her headstrong ways, she keeps secrets.  Even though books aren’t allowed on the compound, she has found a way to read.  On one of her walks she discovers that a bookmobile passes the compound.  When the bookmobile driver stops, she gets up the nerve to get a library card and check out one book at a time.  She keeps it hidden in her favorite tree where she spends a lot of her time.

Reading isn’t the only secret Kyra keeps.  There is also Joshua – the boy she loves.  They sneak out at night to talk, to kiss, and to read.  She sees herself getting married to Joshua and starting a family, but she begins to question her feelings about husbands having multiple wives.  Could she stand sharing Joshua with another woman?

Kyra’s life begins to spiral out of control when her and her family get the word from The Prophet that she has been Chosen.  Chosen to be married.  Married to her sixty-year-old uncle.  Unable to believe this is possible, she runs and hides in her tree until it is dark enough to go to Joshua’s. 

From the minute Kyra discovers she is supposed to marry her uncle, her life is a living nightmare.  She gets a glimpse of what life will be like when her uncle comes over to discipline one of her siblings for embarrassing him in front of The Prophet.  As she goes through the wedding preparations like a zombie, she hopes somehow her father will talk The Prophet out of his decision.

Threats, beatings, banishments.  This is what life is like in the compound.  Kyra must decide if she can live this way or if she will take the risk and run away and leave her family forever.

This  novel is very powerful and disturbing.  The contrast between the family life Kyra is used to and the other families in the compound is interesting.  Where Kyra’s father is always loving and kind to his wives and children, the other men of the compound rule by fear and harsh discipline.  This is one of the main reasons Kyra is headstrong.

Something that would have made this novel even better though, is if the author would have given us more examples of what went on behind closed doors in the houses that weren’t as friendly as Kyra’s. 

THE CHOSEN is a book everyone should read, especially in light of recent news events concerning a situation much like Kyra’s.  THE CHOSEN is a page-turner.  Once you start, you won’t want to put it down until you see how it ends.  Your heart will go out to Kyra.  THE CHOSEN is one of those books that will leave you pondering for days.

Normally there will be some Q & A with the author, but with the time crunch we haven’t rec’d our answers yet.  I’ll post them when I get them.


The Chosen One

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Viking – April 16, 2009

Anke lives in a house full of fear.  Fear of her father.  His temper can flair at any moment and everyone around him suffers.   Anke’s brother and sister take the physical abuse and Anke is, for the most part, ignored in the house.  Anke feels she has no choice but to sit back and witness what is going on around her.  Sometimes she even feels jealous of the attention her brother and sister get, no matter how horrible the attention is.

Anke has one bright spot in her day – volleyball.  Against her father’s wishes, she tries out and makes the team.  Volleyball gives Anke confidence and a small circle of friends. 

At the beginning of the school year, Anke develops a crush on Kyler, a tall, blonde soccer player.  She tries to be where he is during the school day and hopes to attract his attention.  She also has a confusing relationship with Jed, a boy who lives across the street.  Between her family’s dynamics, volleyball, school, and boys, Anke has a lot on her mind.  Will she ever get the courage to say something about the abuse at home? 

BECAUSE I AM FURNITURE is written in verse.  It doesn’t take long to read and although the subject matter is very serious, the point of view is coming from an onlooking Anke so it isn’t graphic.  The ending wraps up a little too quickly and there is a loose end that will leave you wondering about one of her relationships.

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Because I am Furniture

 

Garrett is dragged out of his bed in the middle of the night, handcuffed, and taken to Lake Harmony, a teenage boot camp, completely against his will.  His parents sent him to this behavior modification camp in order to teach him respect and self-discipline.

Garrett is an extremely bright fifteen-year-old.  School has never been a problem for him.  In fact, he quite often gets bored.  He can finish in three days what it takes most students a whole week to accomplish.  So, he doesn’t always go to school.  Instead he goes to museums or the park to play chess with the old men. 

The main reason Garrett’s parents sent him to Lake Harmony though, is Sabrina.  Sabrina was one of his teachers until his parents found out about their relationship.  His parents got her fired, but didn’t want to go to the police because they didn’t want the story to go public.  His mother is always afraid of how things will look to others.  Garrett doesn’t stop seeing Sabrina and even begins to stay at her house overnight.  His parents feel that Lake Harmony is the only way to break off the relationship.

At Lake Harmony, Garrett experiences isolation, torture, and both physical and mental abuse.  His resists the attempts of the staff to brainwash him into thinking he is wrong about everything.  Garrett doesn’t accept the fact that just because his parents are paying $4000 a month for him to be at Lake Harmony, they are right about everything.

It is clear Todd Strasser has done a lot of research on the topic of behavior modification programs for teens.  There is an afterword describing some of what he discovered and more importantly, a reference list of materials he used to put together his research for the book.  Even though the story wraps up a little too quickly and a little too neatly in the end, it is a story that makes you think.

If you want to know if Garrett can make it through with his self-esteem intact?  Read BOOT CAMP by Todd Strasser.