Friday, November 18, 2011

The Poisonwood Bible (35th book of 1000)

I have been wanting to read The Poisonwood Bible since the first year I graduated from university. I lived all the way in Ontario while working at a women's home and my roomate, a summer student working there was reading the book. She loved every minute of it and said I could read it when she was done. That was the plan, unfortunately the home shut down before she ever finished the book....and I moved back to BC. Everytime I would see it in the store I would think, "oh I should really get around to reading that", but of course I never did. Enter the list, and a whole new motivation to plow through books and tick them. I found this book at the local used bookstore complete with a resident cat who flopped on my foot making it difficult to move.

Of the stack I bought this was the first one that I chose to read. It was good. I loved the format which was a story told from 5 different perspectives. I was hooked and only focused on reading it and my book from the list of 100 novels I am reading instead of the usual 4 or 5 at a time. I just wanted to know how things would turn out.

I think my favorite character was Leah because she is probably the one who is most like me. She was embarrassed by her family and tried to fit in with the african world that she found herself in. Her life was struggle but she was happy because she was with the man she loved. She looked for her fathers attention but eventually realized that her father was very imperfect mentor to be following.

I was always saddest reading the mom's story because had so much pain and loss to share. She had it hardest out of everyone in the book because she wanted to leave Africa so bad, but couldn't get over the fear of her abusive husband until the unthinkable happened. Because of her experiences both in the US and in Africa she cam eto realize that life is lived in teh every day moments and not the highpoints like death or marriage. "Let men write those stories. I can't. I only know the middle ground where we live our lives"

As much as I liked Leah the best as a character the most profound words were spoken by Ada the twin who had a limp and a confused brain. As Ada processed her life in Africa and also her eventual overcoming of the limp she thought about what happens when people try to forget their past and their scars.

"What you have to lose is your own story, your own slant...either way you have no words for the story of where you came from.

"We are our injuries as much as we are our successes".

Here are a few more great quotes that I loved, but can't remember which narrator said them.

"to live is to be marked. To live is to change, to acquire the words of story."

"believe this: the mistakes are part of the story"

I have always loved the idea of life as story ever since a Human services class in universitywhere we read several articles about the idea that people think of their lives and live their lives with the idea of story always present. Everything we do makes sense given the context of the story that we tell ourselves.

Although the story is about missionaries it is hard to tell what the author thought about faith.People on either side of the fence have argued harshly about the pros or cons of the way the story was told, but personally loved every minute of it. Faith, life, love is messy and that is what the book represents so well. Each of the characters were changed for ever by a ver sisgnifcant happening in their lives and they each made sense of it in very different ways. That is life. I think there is still a very real place for faith in and amongst all the pain, and confusion of the Price Family's trauma. Regardless of what the author thought about faith the book reinspired me, not to be a Christian like Nathaniel Price but to be an honest and real Christian who wrestles with my own faith and lives authentically before others (not imposing my beliefs upon them or discounting their perspective).

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