A blog for people who don't want to spend all their free time in the real world. After all, we live and work there. Escape the mundane with books, travel, and writing.

Monday, November 12, 2012

"The Poisonwood Bible" by Barbara Kingsolver


The Poisonwood Bible, By Barbara Kingsolver.  

One word:  amazing.  

Premise:  Missionary family goes to the Congo in 1959, shortly before the Congo gains independence and then goes through a period of upheaval, changes of regime, and CIA-backed assassinations.  The family consists of the gung-ho, blindly faithful, iron-fisted father, a mediator mother, and four girls:  Rachel, the self-absorbed teeny bopper mostly interested in looks, Leah, serious and thoughtful, who at first wants desperately to earn the respect and affection of her father, Adah, her slightly brain-damaged twin sister, who thinks in palindromes, and little clueless adventurous Ruth May.

The sections are told from the viewpoints of the four girls and their mother, and the style of each section brilliantly reflects the personalities, quirks, and worldviews of its narrator.  Though at times this annoyed me (all the misspellings/wrong words in Rachel's section, the heavy plays on words in Adah's section), the skill involved in writing it was amazing.  Inspiring.  It added such depth to the story.  Barbara Kingsolver is an artist.    

The sweeping story covers many years and lots of politics and big issues, along with tiny fascinating details.  I learned a lot.  Perhaps even more important, I thought a lot.  It was hard to read in some places, the way holocaust stories are hard to read, or tales of kids dying of cancer.  Especially when the US was involved in the history in such a shameful way. 

Definitely the most memorable and enriching book I've read this year. 

My rating:  the elusive 5

Click here to buy The Poisonwood Bible.

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