Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Review: Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver

Flight Behavior

Flight Behavior
Barbara Kingsolver
Read by Barbara Kingsolver

First lines: 
A certain feeling comes from throwing your good life away, and it is one part rapture. Or so it seemed for now, to a woman with flame-colored hair who marched uphill to meet her demise.

Quick non-spoilery summary: 
Dellarobia Turnbow is unhappily married and looking to change her life when she walks up a mountain and finds a sea of moving orange. What is it? She doesn't know because she didn't bring her glasses. It is butterflies, and they are in the wrong place. Instead of overwintering in Mexico, millions of monarch butterflies have alighted on the Turnbow property in the Appalachian mountains. Why there? And will they survive?
Other characters include Dellarobia's husband Cub, her in-laws Hester and Bear Turnbow, her children Preston and Cordelia, and Dr. Ovid Byron, a monarch specialist who sets up camp in the Turnbows' yard.

My thoughts:
Flight Behavior is my third Kingsolver novel and fourth book overall. It is, however, my first time listening to one of her books, and I was thrilled when I discovered that she did the audio herself. She did a wonderful job. I love voice and her accent and the accents of the characters. It was just delightful. I liked the characters; I loved their names; I loved the setting. Really I'm starting to feel like a broken record.
Being a Kingsolver book, Flight Behavior of course deals with some real world issues, global warming and the environment. The scenario in the book is fictional. It hasn't happened, but the issues with which the book wrestles are real. For me, it didn't feel preachy, like Bean Trees did, and I wonder if that's because the narration made me feel like I was listening to a friend, and we are more forgiving of our friends when they become overbearing.
The only part that didn't quite work for me was the end. I think I was just disappointed. It was what had to happen, I guess, but I didn't like it. Kind of like life sometimes. I'd love to hear more about Dellarobia and Cub and Preston and Ovid and even Hester. And I think that's part of the book's success. It leaves you wanting to spend more time with its characters.

Rating: Read+ - The audiobook in particular was wonderful.

If you like Flight Behavior, you might also like other titles by Kingsolver or The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls.

Some quotes:

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.

“A journalist's job is to collect information," Ovid said to Pete.
"Nope," Pete said. "That's what we do. It's not what they do."
Dellarobia was unready to be pushed out of the conversation just like that. "Then what do you think the news people drive their Jeeps all the way out here for?"
"To shore up the prevailing view of their audience and sponsors."
"Pete takes a dim view of his fellow humans," Ovid said. "He prefers insects."
Dellarobia turned her chair halfway around to face Pete, scraping noisily against the cement floor. "You're saying people only tune in to news they know they're going to agree with?"
"Bingo," said Pete.


  1. How wonderful to discover a fellow Kingsolver fan! I also listened to this story. I think it greatly enhanced the story to have the author as the narrator. I agree with you on how good she was at changing her voice and accent, etc. I definitely gave my heart to Dellarobia and her little boy.

    I haven't read all of Kingsolver's books but I've been following her ever since Bean Trees and Pigs In Heaven. I've read (listened to) those two twice and will probably do the same with Flight Behavior.

  2. I was sad to discover that my library doesn't have any other Kingsolver books on audio. I will have to add them to my "if I ever get Audible" list. Thanks for stopping by!