The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver was AMAZING! It was hard to place this book down and was so compelling that my wife wanted me to start reading it out loud to her halfway through.

Kingsolver brilliantly tells a story about a family from Georgia who moves to the Congo as missionaries before the world turns upside down and Congo becomes independent from their colonial rulers.  This is a work of historical fiction as she weaves the story of the Congo into the lives of 4 women and a unfortunate man. In her own words

This is a work of fiction. Its principal characters are pure inventions with no relations on this earth, as far as I know.  But the Congo in which I placed them is genuine.  The historical figures and events described here are as real as I could render them with the help of recorded history, in all its fascinating variations.

The story is told by Orleanna Price (mother), Rachael, Leah, Adah (twin of Leah) and Ruth May.  Each person narrates for awhile in their own distinct personality and perspective.  They talk about what is happening, their feelings, and their interaction with each other and their father, Nathan.  From the beginning you can begin to see how their fundamental Christian faith is not going to benefit them much as they negotiate a new and vastly different culture.

The story doesn’t end when tragedy strikes, because that is when the story really gets interesting.  I recommend this Oprah’s Book Club book to everyone.  It highlights the problems of Westerners bringing their own ideas and culture into the developing world and being so rigid that no good can come from it. 

 

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