And here we have yet another one of my readings for school, also from my Contemporary Fiction class. Unlike Burger's Daughter though, this book was a re-read for me. I found this book in a box my grandmother had sent home with me one time to give to my mother. My mom never ended up touching the box, but I read every single one in there, and The Poisonwood Bible was one of them. I read it when I was 15, and still a fairly unexperienced reader, in regards to picking apart themes and literary devices, so while I did enjoy the book, a lot of it went over my head. Also, I had zero knowledge of British imperialism and the colonization that went down in Africa way back when, so while I learnt A LOT reading this book, there was a lot of things I didn't understand because of my lack of knowledge prior to reading.
All of this is to say that I enjoyed my second reading of this book A LOT more than my first go-around. Because I already knew most of the events that happened in the novel, I could concentrate on the deeper meanings. I also have a lot more knowledge in regards to African history and imperialism.
The story is told through five perspectives, or all the women in the Price family: we have Leah, who wants nothing more than her father's respect and believes fiercely in the word of the lord; Adah, Leah's twin sister with cerebral palsy which has left half her body paralyzed. She's bitter and much more cynical and definitely doesn't believe in religion; Rachel, the vain oldest sister who just wants to be home and like other girls; Ruth May, the youngest, head-strong, five year old sister; And finally, Orleanna, their mother, whose chapters are retrospective accounts of things that have already happened and who is trying to find redemption.
Each perspective was unique and distinct. Never at any time was I confused whose chapter I was reading. Every perspective brings a different angle, or slant to what was going on around this family. The same events were presented from different sisters, but would bring different insight. Kingsolver used the multiple perspective very effectively, and it also helped that it was very easy to read without actually dumbing anything down.
The prose was beautiful and there are a lot of really nice passages throughout the entire novel. I didn't copy any down, but I wish I had, because Kingsolver writes very ornately without being flowery.
What really sold me on this novel though was that it made me FEEL. I was angry at that asshole Nathan Price for constantly putting his family in danger because he was too close-minded to see that the people of Kilanga didn't want to be changed, that they couldn't be changed. I bawled my eyes out when Ruth May died, at the unfairness of it. I was angry at the unfairness of the situation in Africa, at how North America abetted in it. I just noticed that I can't think of anything that made me particularly happy about this book. This is not a happy book, though it does have glimmers of hope (especially at the end, in a way.)
The only criticism I would have about this book is that it does tread a little bit on the preachy side, especially in the latter half of the novel with Leah's chapters. I didn't mind this too much though.
Final Verdict: I wish I had more to say about this book, but I really don't. It's a beautiful book that does a lot of things, and does a lot of these things right. It's beautifully written and is extremely heart-felt, as it made me very empathetic and invested in the characters. I'm really glad I had a chance to re-read it, as I enjoyed it this time around a lot more than the first (and I already liked it the first time I read it.)