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Flight Behavior

by Barbara Kingsolver

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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3,9712343,063 (3.86)412
Tired of living on a failing farm and suffering oppressive poverty, bored housewife Dellarobia Turnbow, on the way to meet a potential lover, is detoured by a miraculous event on the Appalachian mountainside that ignites a media and religious firestorm that changes her life forever.
  1. 10
    Anthill: A Novel by Edward O. Wilson (BookshelfMonstrosity)
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    Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (WendyRobyn)
    WendyRobyn: Strong presence of nature and nature sciences, small town USA, romantic interest between protagonist and sensitive, educated man
  3. 00
    Damnation Spring by Ash Davidson (LDVoorberg)
    LDVoorberg: Connected by style as well as themes of nature and family life.
  4. 01
    The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver (rockyblanco)
    rockyblanco: Same author but a very different subject.

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» See also 412 mentions

English (229)  Catalan (3)  Spanish (1)  German (1)  All languages (234)
Showing 1-5 of 229 (next | show all)
If you read fiction, you should know two things about Barbara Kingsolver. One, she writes dense, meaty, slow moving evocative prose. Two, she writes from a high octane drive for social justice. In Flight Behavior she has given us a novel to warn about climate change, through a story set in her home region of Appalachia.

Reasons to like this novel: the prose, as previously mentioned. Kingsolver is an extremely talented writer, no question. The sociological aspect. The exploration of how communities of people trust or discount information received not necessarily based on the expertise of the source, but through in-group allegiance. As a one-time sociology student this quite appealed.

The main problem with the novel to me is that its didacticism overwhelms its story. While there are a few well developed characters, charting their lives seems less of a priority here than teaching us about the dangers of climate change and assigning blame to institutions that have failed to get the message out. So we get an unneeded scene with Ovid, the lab scientist, going off on the national cable news network anchor for Big Journalism's failings to communicate the facts about climate change, while we get a very rushed and frankly underdeveloped resolution to the problems between Dellarobia and her husband Cub.

Essentially, I think Kingsolver is more interested in getting her message about climate change out than she is in telling the story of Dellarobia and Cub. I can't disagree with her ordering of priorities, but a novel will inevitably suffer for that. ( )
  lelandleslie | Feb 24, 2024 |
A very interesting book using monarch butterflies migrating habits to correlate to a woman who is unhappy with her life.It touches on global warming and the effects one can see in our lifetime. Great read.
  bentstoker | Jan 26, 2024 |
I hadn't read Kingsolver for a good many years and picked up Flight Behavior on a whim.

I thoroughly enjoyed it - a total page-turner. I don't think I'd appreciated what an excellent stylist Kingsolver is—or maybe she's just gotten better. She can describe anything from a dollar store expedition to a flooded backyard and make you look at it with new eyes.

In addition to a painting a moving portrait of rural Tennessee, the novel poses one of the important questions of our time—how do we live our lives (or, for that matter, write humanistic stories about people's lives) if the world as we know it is ending?

As a Big Novel About Climate Change, it succeeds in tackling this question because it doesn't simply tell you to recycle and stop driving. It's mainly descriptive rather than prescriptive, and the "Oh crap, better start composting and reading Bill McKibben" part of the equation is mostly (if not entirely) left to the reader.

To the extent that it answers its big question, it echoes Thomas Hardy (in one of my favorite quotes of all time, from a book that I disliked and didn't bother finishing): fulfilling, resilient lives "[grow] up in the interstices of a mass of hard prosaic reality." Doesn't make the hard prosaic reality suck any less.

In some ways it's a neatly-plotted book; its characters are deep but not the deepest; it has a few novelistic plot flourishes that I could take or leave. Yet it begins and ends apocalyptically. It's an ambivalent, unsettling mirror of our own world. ( )
  raschneid | Dec 19, 2023 |
Very good novel. About change, mostly. Mostly forced upon us by bad decisions and other natural causes. The struggle to understand one’s own need to fight or flee their own life and choices. Some eerily similar themes to my own life. Moving and empathetic.
  BookyMaven | Dec 6, 2023 |
I'm eager to see where Kingsolver takes me with this book and happily added it to my stack of Christmas break reading. She is one author whose work shapes my definition of skilled writing and delicious word-smithing. Her ideas -- served with style, sense, and non-flashy smarts-- influence my world view.

She established her deft approach to faith and science and how the mix impacts relationships in The Poisonwood Bible. What does she what to show me this time?

concluding thoughts:
While the near magical-realism of the opening moved with powerful grace, half way through the story the unique characters seemed stuck. While Kingsolver's writing often tends toward didactic, I haven't found that a distraction until now. I left the book unfinished. Thankfully my spouse was tandem reading and filled me in on the conclusion when I asked. Guess even my writing/thought favorites don't always bat a thousand. ( )
  rebwaring | Aug 14, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 229 (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)

» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kingsolver, Barbaraprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Aubert, MartineTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Conde, ClaudiaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Spatz, SylviaÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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 . . . .
Mistakes wreck your life. But they make what you have. It's kind of all one. You know what Hester told me when we were working the sheep one time? She said it's no good to complain about your flock, because it's the put-together of all your past choices.
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Tired of living on a failing farm and suffering oppressive poverty, bored housewife Dellarobia Turnbow, on the way to meet a potential lover, is detoured by a miraculous event on the Appalachian mountainside that ignites a media and religious firestorm that changes her life forever.

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Climate change is bad / But what to do? Kingsolver / has all the answers.

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