The story begins in 1959 with the Price family on a plane, dressed in all of the clothes they own, with various household necessities in their pockets. When they arrive in the Belgian Congo for their mission, they realize that they were woefully unprepared for the life that awaited them. The family adjusts to beds surrounded by mosquito nets, weekly quinine pills, poisonous snakes in the doorway, and boiling every drop of water before they can use it. Reverend Price becomes more and more engulfed in his mission to bring Jesus Christ to the village, growing more frustrated and extreme with each passing day. His four daughters figure out what he refuses to see- the people do things differently in the Congo because that’s what it takes to survive. The story is told from the mother’s and each girl’s point of view in alternating chapters. The political, spiritual, and familial unrest changes each family member’s life forever.
I have mixed feelings about this book. On one hand, it was amazing to read about life in the Congo and how it changed everyone in the Price family in such a profound way. On the other hand, reading it was an arduous task. I started and stopped reading it several times; it was very long and the last quarter of the book dragged on. Kingsolver definitely has strong feelings about the political upheaval that took place in that region; presumably, her opinions were woven into character Leah’s story. It also caused me to ruminate on my feelings about religion and Christian missions. Overall, I’m glad I read the book. The Price family has haunted me since I finished and will continue to do so for some time to come.