"The Poisonwood Bible" by Barbara Kingsolver

My High School chemistry teacher, Mr. Luikart, gave me this book to read when I came home from France. I'm kind of glad I waited to read it, because it's so serious. Plus, being a mom was a huge help in understanding and sympathizing with the characters. I don't think that I would have been as willing to forgive the characters for some of their big mistakes if I weren't married with a baby.

It's about a family whose father decides to take them to the Congo in Africa to do baptist missionary work. The whole story is told from various points of view of the four daughters, and the mother.

It was extremely tragic, and it could have ended probably 150 pages earlier than it did. It was interesting that it kept going, though. Even though so many horrible things happen in the book, somehow Kingsolver is able to make you laugh through your tears. Okay, well, figurative tears. I didn't actually cry, I just spent a lot of time thinking, "Oh man."

I can understand why Mr. Luikart appreciated this book so much, having spent a good portion of his life in service to the Peace Corps in Sierra Leone, basically another failed state. I learned a lot about the history of American involvement in Africa, and it was so ugly and disgusting, you would not believe.

Read this book if you want to think. And remember, the characters are totally works of fiction. The setting, however, is not.

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