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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 to settle for what seems good in our lives at the loss of the best; how we let preconceived notions affect our understanding of people and facts; how some of us may know a lot about something but if we are unable to communicate that knowledge with others, our effectiveness can be lost; and there is a strong ecological message. The prose here is outstanding, as I always expect from this author, and the setting and the characters are real. There is much here for book club discussions.
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 situations she found herself in as a mother had me chuckling they were so familiar. The pictures painted of the hills and trees covered with amazing butterflies that lit up the forest were absolutely beautiful. The harm we are doing to the environment and our food sources are a particular concern of this author, as it is mine, but at times she does come off a little preachy and repetitive which at times I found a little off-putting. I found the pacing in some areas to be a little slow, the first 100 pgs. seem to take a while and while I liked Dellarobia I also found the way she acted frustrating. Although she does somewhat redeem herself at the end of the book, by far my two favorite characters were little Preston and the scientist. So I liked this book, enjoyed some areas more than others, but I just didn't get into this book as much as I wished I could.
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 forever when she is arrested by a vision of something she has never before encountered. What seems like a miracle is, however, threatened by her father-in-law’s decision to allow the mountain to be clear-felled by a logging company. Those who start reading and think this is the formulaic righteous woman plus scientist battling against hick farmers and loggers to save endangered species will need to think again! Of all the things I predicted about this novel at the beginning, the only one I got right was that it is very, very good. I was assured of that in just the first few pages by prose like “How they admired their own steadfast lives. Right up to the day when hope in all its versions went out of stock, including the crummy discount brands, and the heart had just one instruction left: run.” and “Whoever was in charge of the weather had put a recall on blue and nailed up this mess of dirty-white sky like a lousy sheet-rock job.“ I also loved “His moustache made two curved lines around the sides of his mouth like parentheses, as if everything he might say would be very quiet, and incidental.“ This novel has a plot that didn’t go where I expected; the characters, too, surprised me when I thought I had their measure. Kingsolver skilfully conveys the desperation of poverty in everyday life and its effect on education, life choices and what people come to believe. She also highlights the importance of the manner in which scientists convey their message to the general public. This novel had me laughing out loud (especially at Dovey’s church marquee sayings), choking up, giving a cheer (for Facebook of all things!), moved to caring about the fate of certain insects and thinking about many things: climate change, poverty, the decline of craftsmanship in the face of mass production, the cost of research, the disposable society and the increasing waste of goods. Kingsolver manages to make a huge amount of information about lepidoptery, sheep farming and lambing, global warming and the environment, easy to assimilate by incorporating it into this wonderfully uplifting tale. Her passion for the environment and our role in climate change is apparent in every paragraph. A brilliant, thought-provoking read, probably her best yet!
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 has flattered her. Instead she finds a colony of Monarch butterflies that have migrated to her little town in the Appalachian Mountains. She is so awestruck by this sight that she decides to go back to her family and "do the right thing". When her father-in-law announces that he wants to cut the trees down, she rises up and tells the community that she has seen this miracle of the butterflies.
Her announcement brings notoriety to her and starts a phenomenon that will rock her world to the core. She becomes very involved in the study of the butterflies and finds that she has more to offer the world than what her life consists of at this point. This phenomenon leads her to discover that she has just been settling for things because of the mistakes she has made.
It’s a very poignant story of a young woman struggling to find her true self and place in the world. As she struggles to find who she really is, she encounters secrets about her in-laws and husband. As the story concludes, the secrets lead her to once again make the decision to leave her current life, but to go off in a totally different direction. She decides to stop settling for what she has and go for more.
A very well-written book that will leave you with more knowledge about Monarch butterflies than you ever thought you needed, and shows the struggles of life in an Appalachian community.