The Poisonwood Bible

It is hard to find time to read a lot at this stage in my life, but I think that I am getting back into a reading groove. I just finished reading “The Poisonwood Bible” by Barbara Kingsolver, and this is the longest book I have read in a long time. I must also add that I am becoming a Barbara Kingsolver fan. She has a way with words that Barbara. Here is a passage from the book that is written beautifully:
“But this time will be the last. This time, before your mind can calculate the answer it will wader away down the street with the child, dancing to the African music that has gone away and come home changed. The wooden animal in your pocket will soothe your fingers, which are simply looking for something to touch. Mother, you can still hold on but forgive, forgive and give for long as long as we both shall live I forgive you, Mother. I shall turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers. The teeth at your bones are your own, the hunger is yours, forgiveness is yours. The sins of the fathers belong to you and to the forest and even to the ones in iron bracelets, and here you stand, remembering their songs. Listen. Slide the weight from your shoulders and move forward. You are afraid you might forget, but you never will. You will forgive and remember. Think of the vine that curls from the small square plot that was once my heart. That is the only marker you need. Move on. Walk forward in to the light.”

So the plot of this story is too long and complicated to even being to really summarize, but I will just lamely summarize it by saying that it is about a young American family that moves to the Congo in Africa in 1959 and is forever changed. This passage from the book really struck me: “For every life saved by vaccination or food relief, one is lost to starvation or war. Poor Africa. No other continent has endured such an unspeakably bizarre combination of foreign thievery and foreign goodwill. ”

Ignorance really is bliss my friends, because once you read a book that makes you think, you have to make decisions about how you want to change or not change as a person.  This book really made me start to think about the crazy wealth that most of us partake of at least in part in the United States and how very very poor so much of the world is. Behind every toy made in China or shirt sewn in India, there is a story about the person who has so little who works so we can have so much. The book talks throughout about the diamond industry, and it really is all so messed up what rich countries like the US have done to poor nations so that we can continue to have what we want. Hmm… I wonder if I will do anything different in my life to show that I care or if tomorrow will be a new day and I will keep on living the good life without thinking about the sacrifices made so I can live it.


Carrie - February 18, 2013 - 8:46 am

I read this book a few years ago with my Book Club and loved it, too. It’s certainly a very powerful book – about poverty, exploitation, and religion. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for new reading material!

adrienne w - February 19, 2013 - 10:09 am

SO I read this years ago for book club and though I LOVED parts of it and her writing, it was really hard for me to finish. It left me very dissatisfied. BUT a couple of her other books, The Bean Trees and Pigs in Heaven were some of my favourites, so I was glad that I read it so I could find the others. Kara, you need to get on Good Reads so we can share more book suggestions!

kara - February 19, 2013 - 10:37 am

Adrienne, I agree. I loved parts of it and her writing, but I thought that it would be more of a page turner than it was. It took me a long time to read the whole thing. It definitely isn’t among my very very favorites, but I did really like it a lot. I read The Bean Trees, and I have Pigs in Heaven and will start it soon. Maybe instead of joining good reads, I will just ask your for good books to read since you know me well and know the kinds of books that I like!

Sarabeth - February 19, 2013 - 5:03 pm

I am usually pretty good about pressing on if books don’t “hook” me right away, but I have now started this book twice….and both times only got a little ways in before I quit. Maybe one day I’ll finish it?

kara - February 19, 2013 - 8:46 pm

Yes Sarabeth, it was not super good at grabbing my attention. Any good books you have read lately that did? I have a couple of books waiting to be read, but I’d love to know what books you have liked lately.

adrienne w - February 20, 2013 - 12:03 pm

Let me know when you want suggestions. I’m full of them! ;) Did you ever read Someone Knows My Name by Lawrence Hill? (It’s actually called The Book of Negroes in Canada.) I’m sure I’ve suggested it to you before. It is my favourite of all time. Amazing. I think you’d like it. I wish I was in a book club with you!