The Poisonwood Bible

By Barbara Kingsolver
564 paperback published by HARPERPERRENIAL
ISBN 978-0-06-078650-2

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My daughter has had a copy of The Poisonwood Bible since high school, and I have never taken the time to even open it. At first glance, and reading the summary, this was not a book I would normally consider reading.

My curiosity was picked when I read that Amy Adams was working on an HBO adaptation of the book. So I thought to myself, “Why not?”. I asked my daughter what her opinion was of the book. Her answer? “The best book I did not read!”. All her friends have read it and they loved it.  The author uses actual events to weave her story into. She makes good use of analogies in describing places, time, and situations. 

This fictional story is set in the Congo. It encompasses a timeline from before the country’s independence from Belgium, to the chaos that follows. It follows the lives of the Price family of Bethlehem, Georgia. Nathan Price, an Evangelical Baptist Minister blinded by his single-minded dedication to his mission of spreading Christianity.  With him is his wife Orleanna Price, and his daughters Rachel, Leah, Adah, and Ruth May.

The family settles in a remote village along the Congo River. There, Nathan struggles to impose his will on the village. He is convinced that his being an American and a servant of God is all that he needs.  But he constantly goes against a lack of understanding of the local culture and tradition. In the meantime, his family struggles to survive without the Western comforts they were used to.  They are unprepared for the life they were thrown into. The stress and conflicts eventually lead each family member towards different paths defined by love, loss, guilt, anger, hate, race, and politics.

The story starts slow but soon draws you into it.

© 2019 – 2024, Norman Talon. All rights reserved.

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