This novel by Barbara Kingsolver is the story of an American family in the Congo. The father, Nathan Price is a Baptist missionary who takes his family to the Congo in 1959 to convert the savages. The story is told through the voices of his four daughters and his wife. Kingslover’s use of five distinct voices allows her to offer multiple viewpoints on the events of the novel. The novel also contains the story of the Congo’s independence form Belgium, the murder of the first president, Patrice Lumumba (only 51 days after independence), and the American involvement that installed a dictator (Mobutu) who would rule in terror until 1997. It is a novel that asks us to examine our own roles in colonization.

The Price Family

Nathan Price : a tyrant who is so disconnected from reality that he seems to barely notice his family being struck down by malaria and hunger, and can’t fathom why the village women won’t let him dip their children in a river with crocodiles that have been known to eat children.

Orleanna Price : The mother of the family, she struggles to keep her daughters alive, and leaves the Congo filled with guilt for the one she left.

Rachel Price : An unrepentant colonizer. She arrives in the Congo reluctantly, wanting nothing more from life than a sweet sixteen party and a pink mohair sweater set. Spouts fabulous malapropisms such as “In America we have a system of marriage and it is called monotony" or "a tapestry of justice".

Leah Price : She follows her father to the Congo seeking his approval, but she stays for herself, and to try to help right some of the wrongs done to the Congo by America.

Adah Price : The one with the slant, lacking kakakaka (Kikongo for hurrying up) spouting Emily Dickinson and William Carlos Williams and her own palindromes and backwards hymns (oh god, dog ho!) She is the one that doesn’t speak. Adah pokes fun at her father and the Bible.

Ruth May : The child, the innocent whose voice reveals the horror of racism with her misunderstandings and such statements as “Jimmy Crow says that, and he makes the laws” and “Their day for the Zoo is Thursday. That’s in the Bible.”

So much more to say about this book, just read it, it’s wonderful!