I just spent a lovely twenty minutes or so completely spaced out, in another world while lying sideways on my bed, thinking about The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver and what a god damned perfect novel it is. I read it quite a while ago (May 9th of 2014 according to Goodreads) but I discovered it long before that, before I read a single page.
When I was a teenager I was allowed a quite generous hour in the library about once a week. At the time it seemed like a pretty restrictive time frame. After all, I needed to look at the spine of every single book in the fiction sections for the upteenth time. I very vividly remember surreptitiously checking out the cover and tantalizing description of Poisonwood several times. It was one of those books I knew my parents would disapprove of because they were (are) fundamentalist Christians with a lot of rules about consumption of media. I was still a Christian myself at the time but certainly resented my parents’ restrictions as much as any teenager would.
I wasn’t just a kid from a strict Christian background, I was a missionary’s kid (MK). I knew first hand all the damage zealotus parents can do unintentionally, with love, with passionate faith, when not from my own family life then from that of my MK friends and acquaintances.
Here I write two paragraphs that I then decide are too personal, erase, and replace with this. In that other world a few minutes ago, thinking through each daughter and their reactions to the life they were thrust into I wondered how the author found her insight. It’s very accurate that all sorts of people have all sorts of reactions to it all. I saw myself in most of the daughters, in one way or another, but mostly the one who hated it there the most, who couldn’t bring herself to socialize with anyone around her, and constantly begged to go home. The eldest daughter is a stereotypical dumb teenage blonde (that I could not relate to even remotely) and she acted that way for different reasons than mine but nonetheless, I could relate to her frustration and rage. But it was the things she said about why she never actually went back to America that resonated the most. It is very difficult to pretend you are normal, like everyone else, when you know very deeply that you never will be again. It was a long fantasy of mine to be able to lie, to make up another life, and effectively become a normal person.
Of course, if you haven’t read the book. Please do. I promise you’ll never regret it.