Set in the 1960s, The Poisonwood Bible centers around the wife and four– very different– daughters of a preacher who takes his family to Africa as missionaries. This novel is a remarkable accomplishment by author Barbara Kingsolver. The chapters rotate between the unique voices of each sister: the beautiful Rachel, a vain teenager who simply aches to be back home in the States, where things are “normal;” twins Leah and Adah, the former, a girl who tries to be loyal and upright, the latter an intellectual and introspective young woman with a physical handicap; and lastly, the spunky, hilarious little Ruth May.
Each handles her new setting of Africa – and the Africans’ foreign customs, beliefs, and ways of doings things – differently, while growing steadily disillusioned by their father. The man is a stubborn, rock-headed preacher who continuously fails to understand the African people he seeks to convert. A brilliantly-woven narrative of family, culture, religion, history, politics, and fascinating details about life in Africa, The Poisonwood Bible is an eye-opening and unforgettable favorite novel of mine.