Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver

Flight Behavior
Dellarobia Turnbow is a restless farm wife who gave up her own plans when she accidentally became pregnant at seventeen. Now, after a decade of domestic disharmony on a failing farm, she has settled for permanent disappointment but seeks momentary escape through an obsessive flirtation with a younger man. As she hikes up a mountain road behind her house to a secret tryst, she encounters a shocking sight: a silent, forested valley filled with what looks like a lake of fire. She can only understand it as a cautionary miracle, but it sparks a raft of other explanations from scientists, religious leaders, and the media. The bewildering emergency draws rural farmers into unexpected acquaintance with urbane journalists, opportunists, sightseers, and a striking biologist with his own stake in the outcome. As the community lines up to judge the woman and her miracle, Dellarobia confronts her family, her church, her town, and a larger world, in a flight toward truth that could undo all she has ever believed.

Flight Behavior takes on one of the most contentious subjects of our time: climate change. With a deft and versatile empathy Kingsolver dissects the motives that drive denial and belief in a precarious world.

Barbara Kingsolver is one of my favorite contemporary writers, and since previous book hadn’t really done too much for me, I was really anxious to see how this one would be. My verdict: she is a writing goddess.

The premise seems simple enough: a colony of monarch butterflies lands in the woods surrounding our protagonist’s house, upending the entire town’s life when scientists come to study them. But there is so much to this novel. There are layers and layers that even now, a day after finishing the book, I’m still discovering. What impressed me most is the way she was able to handle a topic like global warming (or climate change, pick your poison) without sounding in the least bit preachy. That’s not an easy thing to do.

When I read her books I always feel like I’m learning. She manages to infuse the prose with little science facts, making us just a bit more aware of the world around us. Her writing, as always, is phenomenal. She just has a way with words that leave the reader breathless. Her plots are carefully written, her characters fully realized. In short, there is not one thing I would change about this book.

Highly, highly recommend it.


bibliobeth said...

Great review, can't wait to read it!

Getting Your Read On said...

This sounds good. I agree that I'm always impressed with the author's ability to write in layers. Hopefully I can pick this one up soon. :) Thanks for the review.