Over the summer I enjoyed reading a book called 'The Poisonwood Bible' by Barbara Kingsolver. It's not a new book (1998) but it was recommended to me a few times in the space of a couple of months so I thought I should read it.
This is such a full-on book. It is confronting, interesting, disturbing all at the same time. Some of it is very funny - like when they leave the States with Betty Crocker cake mixes strapped to their bodies so they can reduce the amount of weight in their luggage. This made me laugh because I remember as a little girl carrying very heavy hand luggage onto the plane (before hand luggage was weighed).
What I found personally interesting about reading this book was that there were many situations in the book that I could relate to. I didn't grow up in Africa, but having grown up in a small town in the middle of India, the descriptions of how time-consuming preparing a meal was, made so much sense to me. Even though we had a cook when I was little, my memory is that my mother spent a lot of her time in food preparation, shopping and housework. Having a special meal of chicken was hugely time-consuming because the chicken had to be bought, killed and plucked all before it even made it to the oven (a box on top of a gas stove-top flame). All our clothes were hand-washed - we never had a washing machine (and I'm not that old - this is the 80's). The basic stuff of life took up all of life. I also related to the the hassle of having a hot bath - heating up the water for ages before you could have a tiny amount of hot water to wash in.
What I realised (yet again) through reading this book was that, 'gee, I had a different childhood - if there are aspects of this crazy story that I actually relate to!'. Not a bad childhood - it was quite fun and normal because I didn't know any different. But as an adult and now a parent I'm still working through how my childhood has made me who I am today.