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Flight Behavior – Barbara Kingsolver

Flight Behaviour - Barbara Kingsolver

Flight Behaviour – Barbara Kingsolver

I have read quite a few of Ms Kingsolver’s books. I particularly liked The Poisonwood Bible. This was a Christmas present – I might have suggested it – here is the blurb …

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, but instead 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 she dissects the motives that drive denial and belief in a precarious world.

First, how brave to write a novel with a major theme of global warming (or global weirding as one of the characters says). The characters are well-written, but unsympathetic – this is small town America and not the heart warming uplifting romantic view of it. Times are incredibly tough – Dellarobia has $50 to produce Christmas (all of Christmas). The educational system seems to have failed her completely – she seems to have no science of mathematical knowledge.  The plight of the Monarchs was beautifully portrayed and there was hope in the end that they might survive. Dellarobia would also survive and I suspect thrive, but I worry about Cub (and all of the Cubs) his life was hard and he didn’t seem to expect or hope of plan for anything else. He hand his dad, Bear, would have logged the forest for a quick return with no thought to the future and I think that is the fundamental problem facing conservationists. Those trees are their only asset. They can barely afford to feed and clothe their families.

I enjoyed reading this novel and it made me think about climate change. I thought about all of the cheap plastic stuff that is floating around the world. How we all (in the western world)  have too much stuff. Having said that I’m not sure what the solution is.

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