Flight Behavior is a book that is guaranteed to remain with the reader long after the final page has been turned. It is a slow burning, but incredibly powerful story about the metamorphosis of butterflies, a woman’s life, and the world as we know it. Barbara Kingsolver creates a gripping tale while covering a wide variety of both social and environmental issues, including topics such as adultery, stereotypes, species extinction, and climate change.
The main character, Dellarobia, is introduced as a discontent housewife, stuck in a place where she doesn’t quite belong, desperate for a change. And in her darkest hour, the discovery of a forest of “flame” made out of butterflies lifts her despair and gives her something to believe in. Throughout the book, the plight of these butterflies that have been led astray intertwines with Dellarobia’s own struggles, as an entire species threatens to disappear forever while world around them barely takes notice. As more scientific discoveries are made, Dellarobia finds herself changed by her new found knowledge, observing an ecosystem that is both fragile and enduring, much like Dellarobia herself.
As an environmental science major, I found the scientific aspect of this book to be both accurate and very well written. The author uses simple metaphors to explain processes that would otherwise be confusing for the average reader, comparing global warming to a person with a fever, explaining how even just a couple of degrees can make a huge, and sometimes irreparable difference.
The author also creates striking images with words, especially when describing one of the biggest problems that our world is facing today: ignorance. Through the voice of her characters, she explains how we (humans) are in a boat on a river, getting closer and closer to a giant waterfall. This waterfall is the point of no return (the point where the damage to the earth cannot be undone) , and even as we get close enough to hear the roar of the falls we continue to argue about whether or not they even exist. And although the book is packed full of information, it reads like a novel and requires nothing more than an open mind to appreciate the story line.
This was my first time reading Barbara Kingsolver and I was very impressed with her powerful, often poetic writing style. Although a great amount of the book is set in an atmosphere of despair, there is also a tiny thread of hope that flows from the very beginning, following the characters throughout the book and eventually unfolding completely, revealing a beautiful and haunting ending.
Holly is a digital artist and an environmental scientist. She also participates in parrot and exotic animal rescue.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Harper. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.