I recently finished Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible and seriously…just stop whatever you are doing and go find this book. It is amazing.
I became acquainted with Kingsolver’s work maybe 4 years ago when I found a collection of her short essays and thoroughly enjoyed her writing style. I happened across this particular book somewhere down in southern Thailand and greedily snatched it, only to let it rest on my bookshelf for the past few months. A few days ago I began reading it and despite my busy schedule I just couldn’t put it down! I underlined, I read and re-read, I lost hours of sleep to those enchanting pages as they pulled me into another world until my eyelids could no longer hold themselves up and I drifted off to sleep, my coveted novel gently rising and falling with my chest.
I think what captured me most about this novel was the lure of foreign cultures, missions work, and the dark side of American influence and international power. Growing up, even in church, I have found missions work to be a struggle for me to decide on; I just don’t know where I fall on the continuum of right and wrong when it comes to the legitimacy of it and how missionaries go about their work. But that would be a whole other post in general. Kingsolver did a great job of highlighting both aspects of missions work and also what it means to say you are a Christian and act like a Christian.
Even if the religious angle isn’t your jive, this book is written through the eyes of 4 girls and their mother trying to adjust to life in the Congo after having their American comforts swept out from under them. It’s about coping in new environments and learning to survive in a world entirely unlike your own. As you read you live vicariously through these characters, perceiving life through five different lenses, growing to despise some while others resonate so completely with you that you envy the words of a story.
Fortunately the story doesn’t end when they finally leave Kilanga village; rather it follows the girls and mother into womanhood and old age, revealing to you not only how experience can alter your way of thinking but your entire life. It can change how you act, react,and perceive the world. As a reader you get the joy of watching how their experiences changed them and how they coped with everything that happened to them.
There are quite a few books on my love it list but this one (maybe because I just finished it) is most certainly in my Top 5 all time favorites. It is so beautifully written you can’t help but fall in love. Barbara Kingsolver, you speak to my soul.