Thirteen-year-old Kyra has grown up in an isolated polygamous community without questioning her father’s three wives and her twenty brothers and sisters. Or at least 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 the boy she hopes to choose for herself instead of having a man chosen for her. But when the Prophet decrees that Kyra must marry her 60-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.
"There's a day when you realize that you're not just a survivior, you're a warrior. You're tougher than anything life throws your way."
*Brooke Davis; One Tree Hill
I love books about how books change your life and books changed Kyra's life so much in this story told by Carol Lynch Williams. I can't remember exactly who's blog I discovered this book on, but I remember connecting very strongly with the premise of the story being told and it made me want to read it.
Reading books has always been something that I've been incredibly passionate about. So, when I find an author who has given the main character of their story so much purpose and so much strength gained through finding and discovering and reading books, even though they are forbidden to them and daring to be their own individual despite the obstacles or challenges that stand in their way, I devour it every single time.
Unfortunately for me, neither one of my local libraries had a physical copy of this book, so I had to make do with an audio version. It wasn't so bad and I actually finished it quicker than I thought I would, so I may have to re-think my whole take on audio books in general.
Kyra is such an amazingly brave girl from the moment she's first introduced. She risks so much and has to give up even more in order to gain her freedom and the right to be her own individual who makes the choices that she wants for her life, instead of falling in line and conforming to their (her family's) beliefs and practices. She decides early on that she wants to choose the boy that she's going to spend the rest of her life with, rather than be promised to some old geezer (who's her uncle to begin with anyway) like chattle.
She also sort of discovers who she is and other unbidden desires, through the Mobile Library on Wheels, as she makes friends with Patrick the man who brings the books to her once a week as he's passing through on his route. Through Kyra's eyes we are able to see a world in which, young girls are forced to marry older men that many of them may not want to marry, in order to keep the population from dying out and to ensure that they all get to Heaven and follow in accordance with the Prophet's revelation.
We also see what happens when they don't comply in accorandce with those beliefs, such as the beating that Kyra sustained at the hands of Hyram - her father's brother. Not to mention the abusive punishment of a child no older than a year or so. This is easily a book that is felt with, rather than just read. It will stay with you, the images created by the author to make the reader aware as to how dangerous and serious this truly is.
It is truly an act of bravery on Kyra's part, in choosing to leave everything behind, her family and all of the beliefs that were instilled or forced upon, in a desperate attempt to get out of that abusive situation and flee the first time with Patrick and the second time, on her own knowing she may never get the chance to see anyone in her family again.
As an avid reader, is a delicous treat when a book tells me the story of a brave young girl who was able to fight her way to freedom, because she chose to do something that was so forbidden it would have gotten her beaten - something as simple as daring to read a book. This is the type of story that makes me want to pick up another book and read as much as I can devour.