"Kingsolver is a gifted magician of words."
The extraordinary New York Times bestselling author of The Lacuna (winner of the Orange Prize), The Poisonwood Bible (nominated for the Pulitzer Prize), and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, Barbara Kingsolver returns with a truly stunning and unforgettable work. Flight Behavior is a brilliant and suspenseful novel set in present day Appalachia; a breathtaking parable of catastrophe and denial that explores how the complexities we inevitably encounter in life lead us to believe in our particular chosen truths. Kingsolver's riveting story concerns a young wife and mother on a failing farm in rural Tennessee who experiences something she cannot explain, and how her discovery energizes various competing factions—religious leaders, climate scientists, environmentalists, politicians—trapping her in the center of the conflict and ultimately opening up her world. Flight Behavior is arguably Kingsolver's must thrilling and accessible novel to date, and like so many other of her acclaimed works, represents contemporary American fiction at its finest.
With her powerful new novel, Kingsolver (The Lacuna) delivers literary fiction that conveys an urgent social message. Set in a rural Tennessee that has endured unseasonal rain, the plot explores the effects of a bizarre biological event on a Bible Belt community. The sight that young wife and mother Dellarobia Turnbow comes upon millions of monarch butterflies glowing like a "lake of fire" in a sheep pasture owned by her in-laws is immediately branded a miracle, and promises a lucrative tourist season for the financially beleaguered Turnbows. But the arrival of a research team led by sexy scientist Ovid Byron reveals the troubling truth behind the butterflies' presence: they've been driven by pollution from their usual Mexican winter grounds and now face extinction due to northern hemisphere temperatures. Equally threatening is the fact that her father-in-law, Bear, has sold the land to loggers. Already restless in her marriage to the passive Cub, for whom she gave up college when she became pregnant at 17, unsophisticated, cigarette-addicted Dellarobia takes a mammoth leap when she starts working with the research team. As her horizons expand, she faces a choice between the status quo and, perhaps, personal fulfillment. Spunky Dellarobia is immensely appealing; the caustic view she holds of her husband, in-laws, and neighbors, the self-deprecating repartee she has with her best friend Dovey, and her views about the tedium of motherhood combined with a loving but clear-eyed appraisal of her own children invest the narrative with authenticity and sparkling humor. Kingsolver also animates and never judges the uneducated, superstitious, religiously devout residents of Feathertown. As Dellarobia flees into a belated coming-of-age, which becomes the ironic outcome of the Monarchs' flight path to possible catastrophe in the collapse of a continental ecosystem, the dramatic saga becomes a clarion call about climate change, too lucid and vivid for even skeptics to ignore. 8-city author tour. One-day laydown.
I picked up this book thinking it would be about a housewife wanting to get away from her disappointing life. It turned out this this novel encompassed so much more. I found the story beyond the main character's family life compelling. I do have to say, at times, when the story revolved around climate change, it felt heavy handed. I know about climate change and do not doubt it is happening, but the book began to feel preachy. It was annoying, but it did not stop me from reading the book. By the end, I was sad that it ended because I did enjoy the novel overall.
Kingsolver never disappoints. Loved this book!
Kingsolver's characters filled the four chambers of my heart, each with a different feeling: disappointment, empathy, hopelessness, pride in their dogged resilience.
It is too easy to simply despise a character, but I must admit, Kingsolver's ability to put me in Dellarobia's brain led me to hope a terrific accident befell Hester. More than once. We all know there are reasons for characters' behaviors, though, and Kingsolver did not disappoint.
The best scene that captured the urban-rural conflict/misunderstandings and the disconnect between what our society understands about each other (and the issues?) happens when a man is handing out carbon footprint flyers. Everything about this scene is perfect. The setting. The categories and questions. The reactions of the man and Dellarobia.
Read this book. Discuss it with others. It made me think about so much. Thank you.