FLIGHT BEHAVIOR, by Barbara Kingsolver, is her most important novel to date. Kingsolver tackles climate change, global warming, and the human psyche.
Kingsolver snatched my attention with the heartfelt opening scene. Dellarobia, the young woman at the center of this story is about to commit adultery, determinedly. Kingsolver shows such utter stubbornness and tenacity in this choice. I truly felt the ache in Dellarobia’s core as she stomped through the woods to her destination. As she sets off into the forest behind her home, she encounters something beyond her imagination. Since she has chosen not to wear her glasses because of vanity reasons, she only sees what appears to be brilliant fires shooting from the trees all around here. They are really millions upon millions of monarch butterflies that have flown off their usual course. Mexico is their normal destination.
After watching as the latest freakish weather phenomenom blew up our eastern coast this week, I have to ask myself if this new pattern has become the norm. Which leads right into why the monarchs have chosen to land in a small rural area in Appalacia instead of their warmer usual land in Mexico.
Dellarobia married young. Her boyfriend, Cub, got her pregnant and did the “right” thing. Dellarobia gave up her hopes of further education even though she was smart enough to go on. She had children, tended the house, and worked on the sheep farm with her in-laws. But she had begun to feel trapped lately. And now dreamed of escape.
The coming of the monarchs kicked up a storm that changed all their worlds. As the word got out to the media, and then the country, and then the entire world, people began voicing their own ideas about the phenomonen. The church came to the conclusion that somehow Dellarobia had something to do with the miracle. Her in-laws began to see her in a new light. Her friends became distant and suspicious. And she began to give much intelligent thought to why and how.
While Dellarobia works with the scientists to figure out how many of the monarchs have actually survived, her father-in-law, Bear, has sold the logging rights to a company who is going to pay him enough money to save the ranch. It would be the end of the butterflies if he goes through with this.
Dellarobia becomes increasingly more aware of how narrow-minded her constricted community has become. And she finds herself determined to use this event to turn her life around.
Hester is Dellarobia’s mother-in-law. She is, at first, portrayed as a hard-hearted backwoods woman set in her ways and accepting of her fate in this life. But Hester harbors a secret of her own. I never saw this one coming.
Kingsolver lives in rural Appalacia, and, so, brings a true light to the area and the people. She also lives on a sheep farm and can truly relate to the day to day routines. In fact, she wrote a nonfiction book a few years ago called ” ANIMAL, VEGETABLE, MIRACLE. ” Is on my to-read list, big-time.
Other well known authors have written about climate change. But none have done it justice like Kingsolver has here in FLIGHT BEHAVIOR. She shines an educated and thought- provoking light on this most important issue. And makes us think. We may not always agree that there even is such a thing as climate change, but surely after reading this novel, even the strongest non-believer would have to wonder.
I was lucky enough to receive a galley of this amazing new novel from Harper Collins Publishing. It is destined to become a classic. Book clubs rejoice!