Book Review: The Poisonwood Bible

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Book: The Poisonwood Bible

Author: Barbara Kingsolver

Recommend: Eh. I didn’t think it was nearly as good as all the hype around it.

I’ve heard about this one for years – literally. Honestly the title made me reticent to pick it up. Then when I found out the plot, even less so. Honestly, the only reason I read this one is that it’s on my list. So I didn’t go in having high expectations. While it was better than I thought it would be, it wasn’t life changing.

Okay, this is about a missionary family in Congo in the 1960s. They go in with no training and attempt to share with a tribe. The father doesn’t spend the time getting to know the people or culture, just preaches at them and find out far too late why nothing he is doing works. Then there is a revolution and instead of leaving, the father stubbornly insists that they remain until a live changing event occurs and nothing is ever the same again.

The writing was really good overall. I enjoyed hearing from the different characters as the story moved through. I think the author voice all but the youngest daughter really well. You didn’t get a sense that the five-year old was really five. She read like she was twelve or so, not the baby of the family.

I honestly found the parents a bit dense. First off, why wouldn’t you ask people why they don’t think baptism is a good idea? Why wouldn’t you attempt to understand the culture you were now immersed in? I think that this shows a very old way of thinking when it comes to mission work. One that rarely if ever exists today. Even then, this would not be the norm. The book really does paint the idea of mission work in a bad and inaccurate light. I’ve been surrounded by missionaries most of my life and this is not what it looks like. I think the one positive thing this does for missionaries is show how hard it is to live in such a foreign culture.

While it was an engaging read, I really don’t see myself picking this one back up again.

Final Rating:

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Filed under general fiction, historical fiction, Review

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