by Barbara Kingsolver
I don't know if I could even rate this book. Very interesting. It didn't keep me intrigued like the books that I usually like to read, but it was definitely more intellectual and deep. It brought up a lot of topics that were interesting to talk about. Would be very good for a discussion with a book group.
It can bring up topics anywhere from racialism, freedom, feminism, characterization of girls, "inability to comprehend complex things" i.e. are they really stupid because every day they're worried about where they're going to get their next mail. Simple does not mean stupid. , modernization... etc.
There was one thing brought up by one of the daughters that made me very grateful for my religion and the things that I know about this life and the next. pg. 171 : "According to my Baptist Sunday-school teachers, a child is denied entrance to heaven merely for being born in the Congo rather than, say, north Georgia, where she could attend church regularly. This was the sticking point in my own little lame march to salvation: admission to heaven is gained by the luck fo the draw. At age five I raised my good left hand in Sunday school and used a month's ration of words to point out this problem to Miss Betty Nagy. Getting born within earshot of a preacher, I reasoned, is entirely up to chance. Would Our Lord be such a hit-or-miss kind of Saviour as that? Would he really condemn some children to eternal suffering just for the accident of a heathen birth, and rewad others for a privilege they did nothing to earn?...Miss Betty sent me to the corner for the rest of the hour to pray for my own soul while kneeling on grains of uncooked rice. When I finally got up wth sharp grains imbedded in my knees I found, to my surprise, that I no longer believed in God."
SPOILER: This discusses another topic... about why we make decisions in this world... it covers a myriad of topics all in one moment. pg. 383 This is the Mother speaking shortly after her youngest child was killed by a snake. "Motion became my whole purpose. When there was nothing left to move but myself, I walked to the end of our village and kept going.... I went on foot because I still had feet to carry me.
Plain and simple, that was the source of our exodus: I had to keep moving. I didn't set out to leave my husband. Anyone can see I should have, long before, but I never did know how. For women like me, it seems, it's not ours to take charge of beginnings and endings. Not the marriage proposal, the summit conquered, the first shot fired, nor the last one either - the treaty at Appomattox, the knife in the heart. Let men write those stories. I can't. I only know the middle ground where we live our lives. We whistle while Rome burns, or we scrub the floor, depending. Don't dare presume there's shame in the lot of a woman who carries on. On the day a committee of men decided to murder the fledgling Congo, what do you suppose Mama Mwanza was doing? Was it different, the day after? Of course not. Was she a fool, then, or the backbone of a history? When a government comes crashing down, it crushes those who were living under its roof. People like Mama Mwanza never knew the house was there at all. Independence is a complex word in a foreign tongue. To resist occupation, whether you're a nation or merely a woman, you must understand the language of your enemy. Conquest and liberation and democracy and divorce are the words that mean squat, basically, when you have hungry children and clothes to get out on the line and it looks like rain.......
I knew Rome was burning, but I had just enough water to scrub the floor, so I did what I could. My talents are different from those of the women who cleave and part from their husbands nowadays - and my virtues probably unrecognizable. But look at old women and bear in mind we are another country. We married with simple hopes: enough to eat and children to outlive us. My life was a buisiness of growing where planted and making good on the debts life gathered unto me.... A kiss of flesh-colored sunrise while I hung out the wash, a sigh of indigo birds exhaled from the grass. It didn't occur to me to leave Nathan on account of unhappiness, any more than Tata Mwanza would have left his disfigured wife[she had no legs... in africa], though a more able woman might have grown more manioc and kept more of his children alive. Nathan was something that happened to us, as devastating in its way as the burning roof that fell on the family Mwanza[which caused Mama Mwanza to lose her legs]; with our fate scarred by hell and brimstone we still had to track our course. And it happened finally by the grace of hell and brimstone that I had to keep moving. I moved, and he stood still.
But his kind will always lose in the end.... Whether it's wife or nation they occupy, their mistake is the same: they stand still, and their stake moves underneath them. The Pharaoh died, says Exodus, and the children of Israel sighed by reason of their bondage. Chains rattle, rivers roll, animals startle and bolt, forests inspire and expand, babies stretch open-mouthed from the womb, new seedlings arch their necks and creep forward into the light. A territory is only possessed for a moment in time. They stake everything on that moment, posing for photographs while planting the flag. They're desperate to hang on...But they can't.
To live is to be marked. To live is to change, to acquire the words of a story, and that is the only celebration we mortals know. In perfect stillness, frankly, I've only found sorrow."
If this doesn't make you cry then you really do need to read the book. Then you will understand what every word means and nearly every word you read will move you to tears.
Read it, and stick with it. You'll be so glad you did.