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Showing 1-10 of 2,466 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 2,931 reviews
on July 17, 2013
Barbara Kingsolver's novel FLIGHT BEHAVIOR is the sort of book you would expect from this gifted novelist, whose story combines climate change with religious faith and traditional values.

Set in Southern Appalachia, protagonist Dellarobbia's life is turned upside down when a swath of Monarch butterflies nests in her mountain, carpeting the landscape with their bright colors. This has never happened before, and leaves people seeking various explanations from religion and science.

What is so wonderful about this book is the sensitive portrayal of people who have so little money and access to resources that they are imprisoned by the kind of inertia that is brought about by lack of opportunities.

My favorite scene was the one between Dellarobbia and the man with the questionnaire, designed to find out how big your carbon footprint is. The questions were so not relevant to Dellarobbia's life, it was hysterical. And sad.

What was not so good were all of the innumerable descriptions of Dellarobbia's life with her children. If you have young children and live in a part of the world that resembles rural Appalachia, you will probably wonder why I complain about this. And in the first part of the book, when Dellarobbia has such a delightfully opinionated voice, this problem was not noticeable. But after she realizes the extent of the problem represented by the butterflies, after the novel becomes much more somber in tone, her voice flattens out and loses its emotional punch. A stronger editorial hand was needed. Four stars.
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on April 28, 2013
It almost seems that the more famous and successful Barbara Kingsolver becomes, the more comfortable she becomes sharing her scientific/political viewpoint through, as one reviewer says, the "vehicle" of her novels, the less she appeals to the masses on a purely literary level. Many find her preachy, and though I am not among those, I did have a bit of a struggle getting into this book at first. I didn't appreciate her approach, which felt condescending, to the inhabitants of her struggling farming town in Tennessee. Her frequent metaphors were tiresome. But as the pages turned, I found myself deeply drawn in.

The monarchs in the story, whose "flight behavior" is threatened by global climate change, mirror the changes in the protagonist Dellarobia. (I hated her name though and found it one of the most condescending aspects of the book.) Say what you will, however, Kingsolver is a master storyteller, and gradually, the complexities of farmers and science, often at odds, are revealed, as well the media's role in the drama. More than challenges, the outright struggles of the small farmer/rancher are skillfully juxtaposed against the environmentalist movement. No easy answers are proposed, and no winner take all message is delivered. The story becomes much more than the sum of its parts, and the characters' journeys become as arresting as what happens to the butterflies, while Kingsolver creates real humans in all their yearning, annoying, romantic, and sexual glory.

My favorite part of the book, or at least the one most revealing, is when Dellarobia encounters an environmentalist whose list of dos and don'ts for protecting the environment are at complete odds with the lifestyle of someone who can't afford to go out to dinner, never travels via airplane and "reuses" because she has no other choice. If Kingsolver uses her books to promote her viewpoint, kudos to her for doing it so well.
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on October 29, 2016
Flight Behavior is a work of fiction based on scientific truths. The characters are entwined with secrets and unspoken feelings as well as small town gossip and assumptions.. The book begins with the flight behavior of Dellarobia fleeing her marriage and circumstances, which rapidly changes into a magic like transformation. She returns home to face criticism and acclaim. This quickly turns into TV reporters, videos, and social media, in addition to strangers assailing her home.
When the "miracle" she encountered on the mountain is revealed as a mass migration of Monarch butterflies in a poor Tennessee town, a scientist whose life work has been dedicated to researching the migratory flights of Monarchs turns up with some post graduate students to study the phenomena, she is hired to work on the project. The reader has already seen the intelligence in Dellarobia and she becomes a valuable asset to the team. As her world view widens so does that of her in-laws behavior and secrets.
Her in-laws are cold, even to her children, but hold she and her husband responsible to service the debt on the farm. Her father in-law sees the trees on the mountain above "Cub" and her home as an asset to be clear cut; the means of clearing his debt. The weather of unrelenting rain has made a mire of the farm and surrounding area.
The scientist, Dr. , whose study of Monarch butterflies sets up his lab in their barn and sets his trailer next to it. He connects this unknown behavior of the butterflies ss directly accountable to changes in the climate.
There are real surprises based on the relationships between people in this book and fact based scientific evidence.
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on October 7, 2015
Don't get me wrong - I love Barbara Kingsolver and have read everything she has written. Some of her novels have more depth and complexity than others but her construction and word choice are always spot on. This novel, however, was more heavy handed in apocalyptic imagery to drive home the message she wanted to convey. I didn't feel the main character, Dellarobia, was credible. I found her flighty and shallow at the beginning and when later she was presented as being intelligent and thoughtful it was a tough sell. And despite the unremitting rain throughout the story, the ending comes out of no where and leaves everything unresolved. Perhaps this was the point but again, that's part of the message and it just didn't have any of the cleverness or lyricism of Prodigal Summer which is also laden with social commentary and environmental messages. I think she would have done better to present this as a series of essays which need not depend on characters.
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on June 16, 2014
Hmm...this is a difficult review to write. I enjoy, and at times adore, Kingsolver's writing. The problem with this book is that it tries to marry a fictional story with a fictional ecological crisis that is based on science regarding the real crisis of global climate change. On one hand I really don't want to mix my fiction with a primer on global warming yet on the other maybe it is a good way to educate people who would otherwise not pay attention. Interestingly, one of the points she makes it that there is a gap, largely monetary, between those of us who have the power to take steps to reduce our carbon footprint and those who struggle just to get along and who have to make do with what they have right in front of them. It did give me pause to think about countries like China who contribute so heavily to pollution. Even if they had the will there is little they can do. So from that standpoint it did give me a better perspective. As far as the other part of the novel it was just OK although I felt the end was rather abrupt and not entirely satisfying.
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on January 2, 2013
FLIGHT BEHAVIOR by Barbara Kingsolver takes place in the Appalachian Mountains of Tennessee. You would think with the title that the story may involve some type of fancy aviation~~instead it is about things entirely different. The "King Billy" butterflies~~monarchs~~settle in the fictional town of Feathertown, Tennessee instead of in Mexico where they have always migrated. The main character's name is 'Dellarobia', a twenty-something mother who lives with her husband and two small children on the farm owned by her in-laws where the butterflies have taken up residence. This book is about breaking free of the constraints of being underemployed, undereducated and rarely understood as well as the controversial topic of climate change. Is it that struggling town's miracle that the butterflies flew there or is it because of global warming that they settled there as a mistake of sorts? Though it took me some time to really feel connected to this book~~I immediately felt connected to the characters. There is a little bit of `Dellarobia' in all of us. We've all stepped out to the edge. Some of us step back and stay safe. Some of us jump. Regardless of your opinion of climate issues, stereotypes, religion and science, you will find some sort of reflection in this book. 5 Stars.
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on March 29, 2013
I've been a Kingsolver fan for a long time...but this, along with her past several books (since Prodigal Summer) have been disappointments. It is ponderous, too wordy, slow moving and difficult to get through. My book club chose this as our read and we all felt the same way. There were phrases that were beautifully written, but the book was insufficiently interesting to justify the time it took to make a point. The protagonist drove me nuts. Her thought-processes repetative and just a bit too "cute". The only thing I liked about the story was that it provided more than one point of view about a complex subject. Kingsolver attempted to show a provincial perspective. Her character took responsibility for most of the talking down to these characters. It was considerable. She attempted to soften those attitudes as part of the characters education and maturation (ours?) I felt preached to.
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on April 15, 2017
Barbara Kingsolver takes us on another cross-cultural wild ride into the near future, into ourselves. Her ability to connect to our hidden inner chaos and deftly knit that into our current reality, without losing sight of hope, is her gift to the universe.
This intriguing story encompasses global mysteries and global warming, universal loss and the ties of family that bind us together, and leaves us with the spark of dreams we may have opted to set aside when daily routines crowded them from the top of our priority list. It is always a joy to read Kingsolver, and this is no exception.
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on April 8, 2014
This is a unique story and it is interesting. Dellorobia is an intelligent 30 year old mother of 2 children.
She is trapped in a marriage that has never been a good fit. Cub is a content, honest, hardworking
man who has no curiosity about life. The best scenes are the ones written between Dellarobia and
her children. We see her sweetness, restlessness ,and her dreams. She is the first person to find the butterflies
that have migrated to this small southern village. The migration becomes a national news event. Things change
for Dellarobia when the world finds this rural village. She matures and finds that there are still possibilities
open to her. I found the book slow. It did not hold my interest. I appreciated the skill with which the author writes,
but there was not enough story.
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on February 25, 2014
The character portrayals and insight into life in a small rural town where the future is limited are well written and believable. I'm scientist and love anything about nature and the outdoors, but this was overload and beyond belief that this could happen in that environment. I've seen monarchs like leaves on a tree on a ranch in Texas and every fall loved seeing how many would fly across the lake when we were sailing. Her descriptions were repetitive and lectures too much. We got the picture, now focus on the people and add perspective on the current and potential impacts of global warming without drowning us in it. It was also hard to believe they didn't put up a no trespassing sign on their property to control visitors. I liked the Bean Tree and Animal Dreams and was always aware there was a message, but the author didn't smother you in it at the expense of the story.
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