By Barbara Kingsolver
Harper, $28.99, 448 pages
Hiking toward a cabin to meet her potential lover, Dellarobia Turnbow, a disillusioned housewife, happens upon a “forest blazed with its own internal flame.” For the sake of vanity, sans her glasses, the forest appears on fire before her yet she smells no smoke, hears no sound – just an orange blaze among the trees. Awed by the vision she detours from her adulterous rendezvous returning home to her husband and two young children. The vision is interpreted by the community as a divine sign from God, but is actually more scientific: the valley is filled with millions of Monarch butterflies that should be migrating to Mexico, but instead will struggle to survive the winter in rural Tennessee.
Dellarobia finds new purpose when a scientist appears at her doorstep requesting to study the butterflies. The property becomes a camp for those wanting to both study and save the butterflies. She transforms from a bored stay-at-home mom to an engaged partner and eager student. She becomes enlightened despite, or maybe because of, conflict among familial relations.
“Weather is the Lord’s business…Why would we believe Johnny Midgeon about something scientific, and not the scientists? Johnny Midgeon gives the weather report.”
Acclaimed author Barbara Kingsolver’s novel Flight Behavior weaves together a unique story that illustrates much more than the potential devastation of a changing climate. The dialogue at times fails to engage the reader, yet there are descriptive moments of pure Kingsolver magic. The novel ends as dramatically as it begins; hold out in between.
Reviewed by Julie Finley