The Poisonwood Bible is a heartbreakingly good book about the wife and daughters of Nathan Price. Price is a Baptist minister who uproots his Georgia family to be a missionary to a small village in the Belgian Congo just as it exerts its independence from Belgium. The story of their time in Kilanga and the years that follow is told by the four daughters with interludes at the beginning of each section of the book by their mother, Orleanna Price.
The family is in no way ready for what life in the African jungle will be. Nathan — father, minister, leader — has no intention of changing or bending to suit his new and bewilderingly different surroundings, or the people to whom he is now attempting to minister.
Each of the girls must face their new lives and change–or not–as they are able. Rachel, the oldest, is a white-blonde beauty who fits in not at all, and has no intention of changing or learning a thing if she can help it. The twins, Leah and bent, mute Adah, go their own ways and attempt to do the best they can to adapt or at least endure. Ruth May, the baby of the family, moves in and takes over the village children as only a 6-year-old girl can do.
The book is both tragic and beautiful, drawing the reader in and pulling them along through miles of jungle and years of time. It is the newest book on my favorites shelf, and one I look forward to reading again.