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Flight Behavior: A Novel by Barbara…

Flight Behavior: A Novel (edition 2012)

by Barbara Kingsolver

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Title:Flight Behavior: A Novel
Authors:Barbara Kingsolver
Info:Harper (2012), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 448 pages
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Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver

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So, here's the deal... I came across Kingsolver in high school by way of the usual mandatory reading list. My first encounter being The Bean Trees. What attracted me then has the same cast and lure now; primarily her intelligence and divine character development. Whenever I come up for air out of one of her works I have the sense that her characters are all mixed up and formulated in some literary lab she has rumbling around in the back of her brain at all times, fleshed out genuinely by her experiences and perception of the human condition.

This is what kept me in this book. I didn't have a lot of fondness for the characters (besides the kids) but they definitely grew into realities on the pages and made it worth the read. ( )
  lamotamant | Jun 23, 2016 |
Lots elsewhere in Clan!
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 5, 2016 |
This book marks the culmination of [a:Barbara Kingsolver|3541|Barbara Kingsolver|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1350499031p2/3541.jpg]'s imaginative powers and prowess with multiple themes: class, race, ecology, transformation, family dynamics. A sophisticated portrait of a proletariat farm woman transformed in unexpected ways by her encounter with a black academic drawn to her town by an environmental anomaly with serious consequences. Kingsolver builds complicated characters who appear uncomplicated. I know all of these people: Dellarobia and Dovey in the dollar store, the cross-angles of misunderstanding that bisect Dellarobia's encounters with her mother-in-law, her intellectual awakening at the feet of an adored professor, her too-smart child, her well-meaning but inadequate husband. Kingsolver also explains why lower-class America often votes against its own interests. Scenes from this book are seared into my memory. A highlight of my year! ( )
  deckla | Apr 5, 2016 |
My second novel by Kingsolver under my reading belt. Like Lacuna she has titled her work so that it represents many layers of plot that unfold in Flight Behavior.

When a discontented housewife who yearns for a more fulfilling life witnesses a miraculous vision of monarch butterflies wintering over in millions on her father-in-laws property, while on her way to a tryst, she undergoes a personal transformation.

Efforts to keep this discovery secret fail as word streaks through the church, then the community ,to the news and personal media. It attracts the curious to this isolated town, and a fascinating lepidopterist who soon enchants her and her children as he includes them in his biological research and shows her a wider world that she can become part of.

The monarchs may be beautiful, they may seem magical, they can be viewed as miraculous, but they are really harbingers of destruction and the indicator species of a world gone wrong.

Avoiding being overly preachy, Kingsolver informs her readers that there will be no refuge in ignorance from the implications and impacts of global warming. While we witness species of plant and animal life all around us trying desperately to adjust to too rapid change, the question uppermost in all our minds is will human beings be able to adapt and survive. A master of symbolism, a superb crafter of the novel length metaphor, Kingsolver brings apocalyptic fire and flood to the front door of our consciousness in a novel about human destructiveness brought about by greed. She makes it clear and plain that it isn't things that will make our lives better in the "next" world already upon us. Our only hope of salvation is turning our backs on the kind of materialistic existence we've over-enjoyed and learning new ways to think of our lives in co-existence with Nature. She places her hopes in education and lessons of conservation and respect of our natural surroundings. Earth is through forgiving us our trespasses.

Recommend this book to all nature lovers, science lovers, lovers of learning, and especially to doubters who tremble with indecision about accepting the facts that define the one world we can live in. ( )
  Limelite | Apr 4, 2016 |
Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver follows Dellarobia Turnbow's accidental discovery of millions of monarch butterflies wintering on her husband's family farm in rural Tennessee instead of in Mexico. Dellarobia married her husband, Cub, at seventeen when she found herself pregnant. Now she is 28 and unhappy in her current life, the stay at home mother of two living in the shadow, and under the thumb, of her husband's parents. She discovered the butterflies when she had all intentions of running away, looked like a lake of fire to her and resulted in sending her back home.

"The flame now appeared to lift from individual treetops in showers of orange sparks, exploding the way a pine log does in a campfire when it's poked. The sparks spiraled upward in swirls like funnel clouds. Twisters of brightness against a gray sky." (pg. 14) “Unearthly beauty had appeared to her, a vision of glory to stop her in the road. For her alone these orange boughs lifted, these long shadows became a brightness rising. It looked like the inside of joy, if a person could see that. A valley of lights, an ethereal wind. It had to mean something." (pg. 15-16)”

Her "vision" ends up being called a miracle and may result in saving her family financially, but the monarchs are actually a disturbing result of something much more ominous. When word of the monarchs gets out, a college professor, Dr. Ovid Byron, arrives along with others, to study the phenomena and try to find an explanation for what could result in the demise of the monarchs. Additionally, Bear, Dellarobia's father-in-law, is also a real threat to the monarchs as he is strapped for cash and plans to have the area the butterflies are in logged, clear cut. With her husband Cub a passive follower of his parent's wishes and a mother-in-law, Hester, who has never liked Dellarobia, it seems she is the only one listening to the warnings of Dr. Ovid and the other researchers.

Flight Behavior can be found in many of the characters. Dellarobia is obviously fighting her desire to flee. But it soon becomes clear that all the characters have something that they are fleeing from or would like to escape or even run toward. Even as the monarchs are in a new wintering area that is most certainly not going to be hospitable to them, all the people coming to study or see the butterflies are moving into Dellarobia's world, one that they don't understand and hold many assumptions about. The news media spins the story of the butterflies into a miracle rather than telling the horrible truth they really portend.

Kingsolver uses her both her degrees in biology and Appalachian roots as she delves into the effects of global warming in Flight Behavior. Rather than ramming the information and how we can help into the novel, she takes it to the level of Dellarobia. One good example occurs about 2/3rds of the way through the novel when Dellarobia is told what is in a pamphlet on how she can help prevent climate change by a man who says that her people (implying local hicks) need to read the information more than anyone. The thing is that most of the ways people can help that are in the pamphlet don't apply to her at all. She doesn't eat out; she doesn't make unnecessary trips anywhere. She always shops at thrift stores. She is actually more on track because of necessity than many of the citizens the man assumes are better informed.

Flight Behavior has been on several lists as the best book of the year or a notable book to read. The laudatory comments are well deserved. It is an extremely well written novel that delivers a message without becoming too heavy handed. I'll admit that even though I didn't care for the character of Dellarobia at first, I did come to appreciate her and the growth she shows in Flight Behavior. Even as the scientists struggle to answer questions of why this is happening, Dellarobia asks and answers her own questions of why concerning her life and choices. Flight Behavior is certainly a novel that held my rapt attention and I very highly recommend.

Disclosure: I received an advanced reading copy of this book from the publisher and TLC for review purposes.

( )
  SheTreadsSoftly | Mar 21, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 160 (next | show all)
Climate change, for every good and topical reason, headlines Barbara Kingsolver’s marvelous eighth novel. But not to be undersold are its characters, rendered so believably and affectionately, they warm the atmosphere on their own.
...... Kingsolver's masterly evocation of an age – ours, here, now – stumbling wilfully blind towards the abyss is an elegy not just for the endangered monarch butterfly, but for the ambitious, flawed species that conjured the mass extinction of which its loss is a part. Urgent issues demand important art. Flight Behaviour rises – with conscience and majesty – to the occasion of its time.
added by marq | editThe Guardian, Liz Jensen (Nov 2, 2012)
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For Virginia Henry Kingsolver and Wendell Roy Kingsolver
First words
A certain feeling comes from throwing your good life away, and it is one part rapture.
Realistically, it probably wasn't slave children, but there had to be armies of factory workers making this slapdash stuff, underpaid people cranking out things for underpaid people to buy and use up, living their lives mostly to cancel each other out. A worldwide entrapment of bottom feeders.
If people played their channels right, they could be spared from disagreement for the length of their natural lives. Finally she got it. The need for so many channels.
There are always more questions. Science as a process is never complete. It is not a foot race, with a finish line. He warned her about this as a standard point of contention. People will always be waiting at a particular finish line: journalists with their cameras, impatient crowds eager to call the race, astounded to see the scientists approach, pass the mark, and keep running. It's a common misunderstanding, he said. They conclude there was no race. As long as we won't commit to knowing everything, the presumption is we know nothing.
I never learn anything from listening to myself . . . .
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Book description
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.
Haiku summary
Climate change is bad / But what to do? Kingsolver / has all the answers.

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Set in the present day in the rural community of Feathertown, Tennessee, Flight Behavior tells the story of Dellarobia Turnbow, a petite, razor-sharp 29-year-old who nurtured worldly ambitions before becoming pregnant and marrying at seventeen. Now, after more than a decade of tending to small children on a failing farm, oppressed by poverty, isolation and her husband's antagonistic family, she has mitigated her boredom by surrendering to an obsessive flirtation with a handsome younger man. In the opening scene, Dellarobia is headed for a secluded mountain cabin to meet this man and initiate what she expects will be a self-destructive affair. But the tryst never happens. Instead, she walks into something on the mountainside she cannot explain or understand: a forested valley filled with silent red fire that appears to her a miracle. After years lived entirely in the confines of one small house, Dellarobia finds her path suddenly opening out, chapter by chapter, into blunt and confrontational engagement with her family, her church, her town, her continent, and finally the world at large.--publisher.… (more)

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