the poisonwood bible

June 18, 2007

I probably only read 2-3 fictional titles a year. Reading a book like The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver, reminds me that this is a genre I should probably dive into more.

The use of language is exquisite. Several times, I found myself rereading sentences just so I could appreciate how her words formed images and emotions in my mind.

The depth of the characters is equally stunning, and that is precisely what caused my soul to ache while reading it. The book is written in a first person narrative. However, it is not limited to the perspective of one. Each chapter is told through the perspective of one of four sisters as they experienced the life as the daughters of an ambitious, if not oblivious, missionary to the Congo. Each voice is unique, each soul is experienced, each character is real. And the daddy in me longed for a different life for these girls…

Quality of writing aside, Kingsolver provides a pointed critique of the colonial methods so prominent in 20th century missions. I’m not aware of what her background is, or what her intentions were in writing the book. I can only say that she brought me to a new place of considering what it means to be involved in the mission of the church, not just abroad, but across the road.

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