Sunday, January 27, 2013

Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver *****

Writing a great novel is an act of love. Author Barbara Kingsolver and I love Dellarobia Turnbow, self-described as
A girl who got knocked up in high school and scurried under the first roof that looked like it might shed water.
Much in Flight Behavior focuses on life changing events like this. Or when Dr Ovid Byron told Dellarobia's kindergarten son Preston that he was a scientist, or when when Dellarobia discovered the monarchs wintering in the Blue Ridge Mountains behind her house instead of where they belonged in Mexico, or even when her mother-in-law Hester, and eventually her husband Cubby, stood up the the patriarch Bear. However, lest you think this is an ordinary story by an ordinary author, these events might not have been as powerful as they first appeared, or they might have been even more. Nothing is that black and white as Kingsolver delivers the story with loving details of the characters and the place.

Dellarobia grew up dreaming of leaving her small town, where the shops were out of business, and even the library closed. But she was trapped on a failing farm with not enough money to feed or clothe her children, serious Preston and the wild toddler Cordelia, much less plan any escape. All this changed when Dr Bryon came to study the monarchs and like a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis, Dellarobia slowly metamorphosed.
She'd stood before a crowd of fifty people and told them to bark up the correct tree. To command this kind of attention was a lifetime first for Dellarobia. Her normal audience was two, with the combined age of six, to what end she could never be sure.
Dellarobia matures while the monarchs struggle to survive in their new environment. This is a novel of climate change, as well as people change. While Dellarobia comes alive within the pages of this book, climate change still seems buried in polemic and preaching. Though the author knows her science, or maybe because the author knows her science, this is not the book to learn about science, but rather a book to learn about a much older subject: Love.

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