Flight Behavior.

Author:Kingsolver, Barbara
Position:Book review

By Barbara Kingsolver

Barbara Kingsolver, who was a scientist before she was a writer, erupted on the literary fiction scene with the publication of the bestselling Poisonwood Bible (1998), her fifth novel. She followed up that work with Prodigal Summer (2000), the memoir Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (**** Sept/Oct 2007), and The Lacuna (**** SELECTION Jan/Feb 2010). Flight Behavior examines environment and identity in an Appalachian farming community.

THE STORY: In Feathertown, Tennessee, 20-something Dellarobia Turnbow intends to walk away from her old life--a kindly husband, two small children, oppressive in-laws, a sheep farm. Instead, on her way to a tryst with a younger man, she discovers a scene of "unearthly beauty," a mountainside alive with millions of Monarch butterflies who should have landed in Mexico instead. The incident becomes international news and grabs the attention of Dr. Ovid Byron, a Caribbeanborn, Harvard-educated entomologist who builds a laboratory on the family's property to study the phenomenon and hires Dellarobia to assist him. A religious portent to some and a symptom of the adverse effects of climate change to others, the appearance of the butterflies becomes the central event in Dellarobia's life, prompting an epiphany that transcends "flight behavior."

Harper. 448 pages. $28.99. ISBN: 9780062124265

Cleveland Plain Dealer ****

"There's nothing quite like the satisfaction of settling in with a new book and knowing within the first few pages that you are in good hands. ... Flight Behavior is a book worth reading twice--first for the intricacies of character, second for the dense, beautiful language Kingsolver puts on the page." NANCY CONNORS

New York Times ****

"This is fiction rich in empathy, wit and science. Like the butterflies that astonish Feathertown, Kingsolvian gifts are 'fierce and wondrous,' 'colors moving around like fire.'" ELINOR LIPMAN

NY Times Book Review ****

"[Kingsolver] takes palpable pleasure in the craft of writing, creating images that stay with the reader long after her story is done. ... Dellarobia will always sail on a wing and a prayer--that is how she is--but the monarchs open her heart to a crazy wanting to protect something larger, nothing less than this gorgeous endangered world of ours." DOMINIQUE BROWNING

San Francisco Chronicle ****

"Kingsolver's focus here is one family, one community, one life-altering year. ... By the end of Flight Behavior, it's clear that Kingsolver's...

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