Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver
Barbara Kingsolver is one of my favorite authors, and here is another beauty by her. This story is about Dellarobia, who in her attempt to escape her dreary life climbs a hill at the rear of her property in anticipation of a tryst and comes upon a world of butterflies nesting in a forest there. This jogs her out of her reverie and she retreats back into her life but her secret of the butterflies is soon revealed. What are they doing there? Why have they chosen this place? This becomes the focal point of many interested parties, including a scientist who opens new doors for Dellarobia and forces her to be honest with herself about her choices and her life.
As usual, Kingsolver creates authentic, endearing characters that glue the reader to the book until the end. The tender relationship that Dellarobia has with her son, Preston, and the strained relationship she has with her mother-in-law, Hester, are complicated and real-life. Her frustration with her husband is palpable, but he is portrayed in a sympathetic light as well. No one is truly bad and everyone has a past that helps explain who they are.
Most importantly, this story is well-researched (as are all her books) and she has a clear purpose in writing this book. The story centers around the Monarch butterfly, which is uprooted from its nesting site in Mexico to an alternate place in the Appalachian mountains because of global warming and climatic change. It draws attention to one example of the devastation of our environment about which man is in denial. The issue is discussed at great length by the characters and a strong message is delivered within these pages. The complicity of the media in promoting the denial is brought to the fore, as well, in some angering but some very entertaining scenes in the book.
What is most impressive about Kingsolver’s writing is that she is not formulaic nor predictable. She chooses important topics and delves into them with such grace and knowledge that she makes an important statement every time. This may be one of her most important ones yet.