The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
Published in 1998
Recommended Age Group: 16 and Up
Summary: This novel tells the story of a family of six and their adventures in the Belgian Congo in 1959. Nathan Price, his wife Orleanna, and their four daughters: Leah, Rachel, Adah, and Ruth May, travel to Africa there Nathan, an evangelical Baptist, becomes intent on baptizing everyone in sight. When they arrive at the airport to go to Africa they are surprised by the rule that each passenger can only have forty pounds worth of luggage. In order to take along everything they think they will need they each carry things on their bodies and wear many different layers of clothing. When they get to the Congo they soon find out that everything they think they needed is worthless in the African jungle. At first they all try and tame Africa but one by one they realize they it cannot be tamed and they let it control them, all except Nathan, who dies trying to tame this foreign land to his standard in the name of God. We read of the families eventual and complete undoing and how they each, in their own way, put their lives back together. Some stay in the Congo and other go back to Georgia but they are all changed forever.
Personal Notes: A truly amazing endeavor! This novel captured my attention from the very start with its interesting prose and story line. It is also interesting how she tells the story from five people’s point of view and how they are so widely different. Not just the opinions but the writing style. She even includes grammatical errors that she feels each person would make. I feel you get to know the characters more with this style of writing. The reader is more in their heads and the reader is better able to connect with the characters. The book started out great but got even better about a third through it. The setting is interesting and so are the characters. Overall a fabulous read and an exciting adventure.