Freelance editor, children's writer and occasional word inventor.
Yesterday I finished The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams (St. Martin’s Griffin, May 2009).
I have to admit, the first thing that caught my eye was the impressive list of author blurbs – Gregory Maguire, Meg Cabot, Kathi Appelt, Sara Zarr and our own Cynthia Leitch Smith. Ms. Williams – you are in good company! :)
It’s already received great reader reviews as well (Goodreads), and it’s easy to see why.
Williams’s sparse prose is powerful. To describe the guilt that Kyra, a 13 year old girl living in a polygamous sect, feels due to her disobedience, Williams writes:
A plan. Books. And a boy.
There’s a boy.
Oh, I am carrying the weight of what I have done. But no one seems to notice.”
– Page 17
Yet despite the maturity that Kyra shows when evaluating her faith, Williams also makes a point to show us signs of her youth.
Kyra is chosen by the Prophet as the seventh wife for her Uncle, who is a full sixty years older than herself. When Kyra’s father comes back to the house after asking the Prophet to cancel the marriage, Williams writes,
“He says nothing, just places his hands on my head. He smooths my hair. I hear my mother begin to cry.
And just like that, there’s a knock at the door.
‘Please don’t make me.’ I crawl up on the sofa next to him.”
– Page 75
The word “crawl” immediately conjures images of babies. Youth. Defenselessness. Such a strong choice during a scene when Kyra is seeking the protection of her father, and when the reader knows that her father is powerless to protect her.
Comment discussion: Part of what makes Williams’s writing so powerful is careful word choice. What one word could you use in your manuscript that would give the same amount of power to a scene you’re writing, as the word “crawl” did in The Chosen One? (Post a few lines before and then with the word change.)