by Rachelle Dekker
Tyndale House Publishers
Who am I? It’s a question that looms before everyone, and the world offers a thousand answers. I am a consumer. I am a patriot. I am an athlete. I am a husband. I am a wife. Yet, ultimately, these identities will all break down. They are faulty, insufficient. In this cacophony of answers, one is often drowned out. For Christians the ultimate answer has been, I am a child of God, redeemed by Christ.
Rachelle Dekker addresses this struggle for identity in her dystopian novel, The Choosing, a work wisely slanted toward the young adults who so desperately need its message. The book tells the story of Carrington Hale, a seventeen-year old girl seeking purpose and hope in an oppressive society governed by the Authority, a totalitarian regime propped up by the holy book The Veritas. Like all girls her age, she must be present for the Choosing, a ceremony in which young men select brides. Since her earliest memories, she has been preened and prepared to be chosen. Not to be chosen, she is told, would yield a cruel fate.
Indeed, she is not chosen. Instead, she is cast into the lowest echelon of society, the Lints, with other rejected girls. There, Carrington begins to see her world from a new perspective. She meets the steady CityWatch guard, Remko, and begins to fall in love. There are even whispers of a heretic outside the walls who preaches against the Authority. As a Lint, however, Carrington is not permitted to marry, and the dark machinations of the fanatical Authority leader, Isaac Knight, threaten to drag her ever further into the lies of her world.
Though these basic elements might sound a bit recycled or predictable to those familiar with the genre, The Choosing surprises with a distinctive theme.
Dekker challenges her readers with the realization that sometimes the most subversive and dangerous lies about identity can form within the church itself. Carrington has been taught her entire life that her role is to wait for a man to choose her, that her value and satisfaction will come from her eventual husband, marriage, and role as a wife. She is convinced of this by the Authority, the twisted words of The Veritas, and even her own mother, who was taught the same thing all her life. The Choosing shows the damage that can and has been done to young adults, particularly girls, when Scripture is used to place one’s identity in anything other than Christ, whether it be performance or role.
Though this book suffers occasionally from stiff prose and a few clichés, Dekker’s novel is a challenging, engaging, and ultimately uplifting story for young adults, stressing God’s genuine love, grace, and delight for His children. Anyone looking for a tactful and relevant Christian twist on a classic dystopian narrative should try this book. The only struggle might be waiting for the next installment.
Benjamin McKinney is a professional writing major at Taylor University and an avid reader, and has loved words well put for as long as he can remember.