Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver (Review)
Posted September 9, 2013on:
How do different people view an unusual event in nature? Is it a disaster? Is it a miracle? Is it a sign of life out of balance? Barbara Kingsolver explores these questions through the prisms of class, region, science, love, loyalty and family. Kingsolver’s main character, Dellarobia Turnbow, is someone who has been let down in many parts of her life. She got pregnant young, married the wrong guy, is tolerated by her in-laws, doesn’t like church and is constantly overwhelmed as a housewife and mother. The novel opens as she finds herself about to take a drastic step to escape this life when she comes face to face with an experience that will shape and redefine her in unimaginable ways. The writing is unflinching as Kingsolver skillfully takes aim at the media, the decline of public education (and the critical thinking that comes along with it), and the effects of globalization that has taken a toll on Turnbow’s isolated Tennessee community.
Climate change is at the heart of this book, but Kingsolver never loses sight of her characters, their daily struggles, biases and complexities. My only minor criticism, initially, was how dense the first chapter seemed. It was rarely broken with dialogue or Dellarobia’s inner thoughts. But, I see how Kingsolver used the richness and layering in that chapter, to great effect, as a touchstone throughout the entire novel. Dellarobia’s humor, insight and curiosity create an irresistible pull for the reader. After the first chapter, I was hooked.
What I love about this book is the way Dellarobia confronts her own biases, blindspots, and does some hard thinking to make up her own mind about the world around her.