Sunday, March 10, 2013

Flight Behavior

I did a little traveling the last few days, which gave me a chance to finish listening to Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver. It is not my purpose to write book reviews by other authors in this book blog, but neither will I ignore what I am reading.

Flight Behavior  is a marvelous book on so many levels. It is a cautionary tale about climate change. It is an examination of the way an accident of birth can hold back a great mind. It is as good as anything I have read about marriage.

Kingsolver’s character development is excellent. Most of her characters are just scraping by in small town Appalachia. What they do and what they say is often hilarious, but she never crosses the line into making fun of them for their situation and their beliefs. She seems to love and understand these people, even as she disagrees with them. She goes out of her way to show us why their beliefs are, in their way of thinking, logical; even necessary. 

Dellarrobia, her protagonist, comes of age about 15 years late. Her intelligence and spirit stunted by surroundings she could not imagine escaping, blossom with a crisis of butterflies. We learn about her species--the hard scrabble Appalachian--as she learns about Monarchs. The world of both species is upturned. The choices are not simple for either. There is a lot of despair here, but at least a little hope, about as substantial as a butterfly. 

Kingsolver chose to narrate her own book. That’s not always a good choice for an author. I don’t think I’d do it, even with many years experience in narration and broadcasting. It works for Kingsolver, though. She’s a talented narrator who uses well her intimate knowledge of how her character’s speech should sound.

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