Grafton Public Library

Review: Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver

Posted by bethg on

Flight BehaviorIt has been many years since I read Barbara Kingsolver’s transcendent novel, The Poisonwood Bible. Her latest work does not take place in far-away Africa, however, but in rural Tennessee. This is an area the author knows well since she and her family live on a farm in Appalachia. It is the setting for Flight Behavior.

Dellarobia Turnbowis a young mother toiling on a family farm. As she climbs a nearby mountain one day on her way to a tryst, she sees a remarkable sight. Through a clearing of trees, she sees a sea of quivering red which turns out to be monarch butterflies who have lost their way. Their natural habitat, a mountain in Mexico, has been deforested with resulting landslides, and the monarchs somehow found their way to Tennessee.

This cautionary tale of the environment gone awry is a major theme in the story. As scientists arrive on the scene to assess the situation, Dellarobia, named after the wreath, becomes active in the research involved. Her education had been halted due to the responsibilities of parenthood, but her natural curiosity and innate intelligence took over.

In addition to this tale of climate change is the story of a woman who has found her life tedious and unfulfilling. She has lost connection with her husband, lives in a home owned by her in-laws and poverty is grinding her down. Then came the monarchs. How she deal with these elements, including the church and the arriving scientists and media is a unique look into an all too possible situation.

Thanks to Barbara Kingsolver, the reader is given a view of a style of life not ordinarily mentioned. I do not find her preachy at all, just realistic. At one point in the book, for example, the locals are warned by the scientists about leaving a smaller carbon footprint-–they could perhaps fly less. This advice was given to people who had never had occasion to cross the state line.

If you haven’t done so yet, become acquainted with the world of Barbara Kingsolver; Flight Behavior would be a great start.

I give the book 4 recycled water bottles.

Happy reading from Beverly!

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