On My Bookshelf: Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver

flight behaviorwhat initially drew you to read this book?

Barbara Kingsolver has been a long-time favorite of mine since high school.  Her book previous to this one, The Lacuna, is one of my favorite books of all time.  A couple months ago, a friend clued me in to an interview with Kingsolver on NPR.  When she revealed she had a new book coming out, I wet my pants with excitement (please don’t read that literally).  To stave off my hunger, I picked up one of her older books, Prodigal Summer, and consumed it while on vacation.  Still, it could not hold me over; with just 2 days left to the end of vacation, I finished the book.  I knew there was just one thing left to do: find a bookstore (stat!) and pick up this new book.

basic overview:

Dellarobia Turnbow is stuck in a lifeless marriage, trapped on the family farm, desperate for escape.  Her drastic moves lead her to a great discovery: a hillside of trees covered in Monarch butterflies, a group of insects on a path of altered flight behavior.  This leads to an even greater discovery: herself.  Instead of fleeing, she stays and confronts all that she has been avoiding for nearly a decade of marriage.  The presence of the butterflies brings visitors from all over the world, including a scientist by the name of Dr. Byron Ovid.  He proves to be a great teacher to Dellarobia, and his influence opens doors she never thought possible.  Through this story, we watch as Dellarobia alters her own flight behavior and changes her life.

do you recommend this read?  why/why not?

oh, do i recommend breathing?  or eating?  “recommending” always seems too much of an understatement when discussing a Kingsolver novel.  using her expertise as a scientist, she presents a situation, though fictional, that is very possible in this present day and age, when our carbon footprints are destroying the globe.  the detail in which she presents the situation draws the reader into a greater understanding of the scientific point of view on things.  she is also a master of character development, to the point that the reader feels a deep connection with Dellarobia.  we mourn her losses, celebrate her victories.  and ultimately feel ourselves set free by her newly-found freedom.  once again, Kingsolver draws us into a story deeply and profoundly moving.

additional comments:

i almost cried when i finished this book, feeling as a friend who’d come to stay for a visit was waving good-bye.  whenever i read a book by Kingsolver, i feel as if she’s with me and we are having tea, and she’s telling me a really good story.  she is like a close friend or family member, a stranger i feel incredibly comfortable with.  that being said, how could you not read this book?

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