Flight Behavior transfixes from its opening scene, when a young woman's narrow experience of life is thrown wide with the force of a raging fire. In the lyrical language of her native Appalachia, Barbara Kingsolver bares the rich, tarnished humanity of her novel's inhabitants and unearths the modern complexities of rural existence. Characters and reader alike are quickly carried beyond familiar territory here, into the unsettled ground of science, faith, and everyday truces between reason and conviction.
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.
While Kingsolver's novels have always contained political, environmental, and social messages, these messages are rendered with a particularly strong hand in Flight Behavior. The book shows the reality of how different social and economic groups in America view global warming, and the implicit danger in all Americans not fully understanding the magnitude and complexity of climate change. Kingsolver speaks to trendy "going green" habits, the failure of poor public schools to teach science, the religious issues surrounding evolution, and the modern-day concerns of rural American farmers. Though the ecological event that drives Flight Behavior is fictional, the concerns that are voiced and demonstrated are very, very real. (Reviewed by Elizabeth Whitmore Funk).
…Enthralling…Dellarobia is appealingly complex as a smart, curious, warmhearted woman desperate to - no resisting the metaphor here - trade her cocoon for wings.
A dazzling page-turner
Starred Review. With her powerful new novel, Kingsolver delivers literary fiction that conveys an urgent social message… a clarion call about climate change, too lucid and vivid for even skeptics to ignore.
Starred Review. Drawing on both her Appalachian roots and her background in biology, Kingsolver delivers a passionate novel on the effects of global warming.
Starred Review. People trying to survive economically day-by-day. One of Kingsolver's better efforts at preaching her politics and pulling heartstrings at the same time.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Dorothy T. Many layers to this story Although heavy on the scientific details, which slowed down the story for me (OK, I admit, I was one of those liberal arts majors who skipped out on science classes), Barbara Kingsolver gives her readers much to think about seriously: How we tend... Read More
Rated of 5
by Diane S. Flight It is so very welcome to once again have Kingsolver write about the rural and mountain areas that have produced some of my favorite novels of hers. The character of Dellarobia and her children, wonderful and so earnest little Preston, the... Read More
Rated of 5
by Cloggie Downunder Kingsolver's best yet Flight Behaviour is the 5th stand-alone novel by Barbara Kingsolver. In the Appalachian Mountains above her home, eastern Tennessee farm wife and mother of two, Dellarobia Turnbow is about to take a step that will change her unsatisfactory life... Read More
Rated of 5
by Tillie H Flight Behavior says it all It’s the story of Dellarobia, who finds herself restless with life. She's basically trapped in a marriage with a man who she has come to love because he's good to her. She wakes up one morning set out on going to a rendezvous with a younger man who... Read More
The misguided migration of monarch butterflies to southern Appalachia in Flight Behavior is a fictional event, but Kingsolver grounds her theoretical occurrence in reality. As readers see through the character of Lupe, the Mexican wintering grounds of the monarch butterfly are damaged by drastic flooding and mudslides. This event is, sadly, entirely true.
In February 2010 the town of Angangueo, Mexico was devastated by floods and landslides. The damage caused the local economy to rely even more heavily on its butterfly-related tourism due to the extensive damage to the town's infrastructure, crop productions, and ability to farm cattle. Angangueo is located in the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The...
A Man Called Intrepid author dies aged 89(Dec 03 2013) William Stevenson, a journalist and author who drew on his close ties with intelligence sources to write two best-selling books in the 1970s, A Man Called...