Wednesday, November 13, 2013

"The Poisonwood Bible" by Barbara Kingsolver (1998)

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The Poisonwood Bible is a story told by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce, evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959. They carry with them everything they believe they will need from home, but soon find that all of it—from garden seeds to Scripture—is calamitously transformed on African soil. What follows is a suspenseful epic of one family's tragic undoing and remarkable reconstruction over the course of three decades in postcolonial Africa.

  • Remarkably deep, thought-provoking, and emotion-stirring... Really broadens your views on the world. Most of the story is centered in the 1960's, in the midst of the Cold War years where tension is running highest, deep in the heart of Central Africa. There's a lot of history in there that has to do with imperialism, religion, communism v. the ideal "free world," etc, and it might shatter your naive notions about how things should be conducted in a government and answer your questions as to why Africa has never been economically prosperous.
  • The story itself is also intriguing. I read this over the course of the month and fell in love with the characters pretty quickly. It's very easy to get attached and yet so frustrated at each one. There's Leah, who's begging to be loved by her negligent father; Adah, smart but emo with an overwhelming amount of self-pity; Rachel, who is spoiled and shallow and hilarious (in my point of view, anyway - her abundance of malapropisms and inability to spell very well always makes me chuckle), and many other characters with their endearing quirks or unfortunate situations, allowing you to hold sympathy for them.
  • Of course, the prick of the family drives me nuts. (Hint: it'll be the father.) He's very obstinate and arrogant and just... UGH. What happened to him at the end was an absolutely brilliant twist of fate though, and very ironic.
  • A lot of the themes center around the guilt of the women in their family and moving forward. I absolutely loved it, how they are strong enough in their own ways to pick themselves back up even after a tragedy occurs, and it struck me as a book with some sort of feminist... vibe. Nothing explicit, of course, or too overboard (it's not like they're portraying all guys as pathetic or anything), but I loved how they made the female characters strong in different ways.
  • Beautiful ending. Really ties everything together again. I hadn't read such a satisfying book in such a long time, so I was really thrilled and eager to write a review for this one. Would highly recommend to anyone!

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars!

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