Book #79: The Poisonwood Bible

I’m almost completely caught up from when I was behind on blogging! Actually, I just read this book last week, so this is the firs time in awhile that I’m writing about a book that I read fairly recently. Woo!

In college, my Twin was in an English class where she had to read Barbara Kingsolver’s book Prodigal Summer, and she hated it. She read some of the, uh, worse sex scenes out loud to us, and for few weeks it was a Thing to make fun of/hate Kingsolver. This was running through the back of my mind when I was reading The Poisonwood Bible.

There weren’t any ridiculous sex scenes in it, though. It actually wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I even enjoyed reading most of it.

The Poisonwood Bible is told from the point of view of the five women of the Price family. The devout, intense head of the family, Nathan, a Baptist minister, relocated his family to the Congo for one year while he serves as a missionary. The family – the reluctant wife, Orelanna; and the daughters, shallow, appearance-centered Rachel; twins Leah, the brave, faithful follower of her father who strives to embrace Africa, and Adah, crippled and mostly mute; and the youngest, Ruth-May – all try to deal with the difficult life they now must lead as revolution breaks out, things go wrong, and Nathan refuses to give in or bend his ways.

Their year stretches into longer when he mission program falls apart after a coup in Congo, and the family find themselves fighting for survival in Africa.

Overall, I enjoyed The Poisonwood Bible. The daughters are the main narrators, and I really liked all their different voices. Kingsolver did a great job of creating strong, believable characters, each with their own thoughts and impressions of what was going on around them. The writing was good and I think Kingsolver captured the strangeness of traveling to and living in a completely different society.

However, I wasn’t totally happy with the book. My high school English teacher saw on Facebook that I was reading The Poisonwood Bible, and commented, “Good book, tough sledding.” I agreed. The book is really well-written and the story is compelling, but I feel like it’s about 150-200 pages too long. It seemed like the climax happened and everything was dark and interesting, and then it dissipated way, waaay, too slowly. I don’t feel like the book needed to follow the girls as they grew into adulthood. Or, if it did, I certainly don’t think it needed to take up almost a third of the book.

Rating: ***
Up Next: Kidnapped

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