Review: Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver

Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver
Publisher: Harper
Publication Date: November 2012
Categories: Political, Literary, Contemporary Women
Source: Harper via Edelweiss


Set in the present in the rural community of Feathertown, Tennessee, Flight Behavior is the story of Dellarobia Turnbow, a petite, razor-sharp young woman who nurtured worldly ambitions before becoming a mother and wife at seventeen. Now, after more than a decade of tending small children on a failing farm, suffering oppressive poverty, isolation, and her husband’s antagonistic family, she mitigates her boredom in an obsessive flirtation with a handsome younger man.

Headed to his secluded cabin to consummate their relationship, she instead walks into something on the mountainside she cannot explain or understand: a forested valley filled with silent red fire that appears to Dellarobia to be a miracle. Her discovery is both beautiful and terrible, and elicits divergent reactions from all sides. Religious fundamentalists claim it as a manifestation of God; climate scientists scrutinize it as an element of forthcoming disaster; politicians and environmentalists declaim its lessons; charlatans mine its opportunity; international media construct and deconstruct Dellarobia’s story; and townspeople cope with intrusion and bizarre alterations of custom.

After years lived entirely within the confines of one small house, Dellarobia finds her path suddenly opening out and ultimately leading into blunt and confrontational engagement with her family, her church, her town, her continent, and finally the world at large. Over the course of a single winter, her life will become the property of the planet and, perhaps for the first time, securely her own.

My Thoughts:

About the Author

Flight Behavior offers a fresh view of climate change and the surrounding issues. It’s easy to have grand ideas about how to fix it, but on the ground it’s complicated, confusing and sometimes frightening. 

“I think people are afraid to face up to a bad outcome. That’s just human. . . . If fight or flight is the choice, it’s way easier to fly.”

Though science is at the heart of this novel it is written in a lively and accessible way. 

The best part of this book is the main character Dellarobia. She is doing the best she can with what life has thrown at her. She reminded me of women I know. She reminded me of me

If I were you? I’d put this book on my wish list. 

23 thoughts on “Review: Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver

  1. This sounds interesting and offbeat. We do not hear enough about the psychology and sociological implications behind the reality and denial by some, of climate change. It sounds like this book tackles some of those issue. Of course, as climate change becomes more and more apparent andit effects our lives in an increasing way, this book might be on the vanguard of many more.


  2. I will have to add this to my list! I like that's it's sounds sci-fi without being too heavy on the sci. Kingsolver is a great author and one of my all-time favorite books, The Poisonwood Bible, is by her. A must-read ASAP if you haven't read it yet!


  3. It's different from most things I've read. I don't come across a whole lot of books about the crazy behavior of monarchs very often 😉 Of course it's really about the places we get stuck in our lives and all sorts of other deep stuff too 😉


  4. I read some books by Barbara Kingsolver a long time ago. I can't remember the titles but one was about a single woman who found an abandoned baby in her car and ended up deciding to raise her, and the sequel was where a Native American lawyer found out the baby was really Native American and wanted her to be adopted by Native American parents. Maybe I'll check out this one too!


  5. This sounds more accessible than some of her other novels, which I've put off reading because of the length and style. Wonderful to hear of a book that has a character not living as they wanted but then later finding themselves again in such a way.


  6. I have actually never read anything by Kingsolver before. I might have to check this out on my next library haul. I do like contemporary, so I think that this would be a great fit for me. Thanks for reviewing this one, and bringing it to my attention!


  7. I think I read all of Kingsolver's books – at least I can't think of one now that I didn't read. I love her books, the Bean Trees and Pigs in Heaven especially, but even more so Prodigal Summer. I have requested a review copy of this new book and read the first chapters already earlier this year (which intrigued me). I hope i get my copy soon – looking forward to it.


  8. You know, before I read your review I had no idea what this book was about. It's always nice to hear how an author has succeeded in making a book that involves science accessible 🙂


  9. I'm still struggling with my thoughts on this book. I felt it was a bit too preachy at times and about more than climate change. Still, it was a fascinating look at a completely different lifestyle and the unexpected impact our global issues can have on even the most harmless elements of nature.


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