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Flight Behavior

3.75  ·  Rating Details ·  62,878 Ratings  ·  8,606 Reviews
Flight Behavior is a brilliant and suspenseful novel set in present day Appalachia; a breathtaking parable of catastrophe and denial that explores how the complexities we inevitably encounter in life lead us to believe in our particular chosen truths. Kingsolver's riveting story concerns a young wife and mother on a failing farm in rural Tennessee who experiences something ...more
Hardcover, 436 pages
Published November 6th 2012 by HarperCollins (first published November 1st 2012)
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Eithne Carter I liked the balance, but I'm an environmental scientist. I can imagine that the detail in the book might be a stretch for anyone who isn't familiar…moreI liked the balance, but I'm an environmental scientist. I can imagine that the detail in the book might be a stretch for anyone who isn't familiar with the scientific terminology.

I'm wondering if this book raised anyone's concerns about climate change? Or do Barbara Kingsolver's readers already have that kind of environmental awareness? (Maybe I should pose this as a separate question on this forum?)(less)
Eithne Carter This particular story of the butterflies is a work of fiction, but the butterflies themselves are not. Events in Mexico affecting these butterfly…moreThis particular story of the butterflies is a work of fiction, but the butterflies themselves are not. Events in Mexico affecting these butterfly populations are real. It highlights a very real scientific concern. Nobody can actually solve the problem of the butterflies. Their habitat is being destroyed. It may well be too late for them.
We can stop putting carbon into the air, and concentrate on putting carbon into the soil, where it belongs. Stabilise our environment, and hope that other creatures don't have to deal with similar disruption to their way of life.
Stop burning, start planting. Not easy, but vital.(less)

Community Reviews

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Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
Jun 13, 2012 Christina (A Reader of Fictions) rated it it was ok
Shelves: arc
I love Barbara Kingsolver. All of her books automatically go on my to-read list, because she's brilliant. One of the things I love about her is how unique her books are from one another. She writes different kind of characters in disparate environments and focuses on varying themes. I find it so impressive when authors can reinvent themselves so often. Flight Behavior is my fourth Kingsolver book. Unfortunately, unlike the others, this one failed to meet my expectations.

My first Kingsolver read
Will Byrnes
May 19, 2012 Will Byrnes rated it it was amazing
In 2004 Barbara Kingsolver moved from Tucson, where she had lived since 1978, to southern Appalachia. This marked a return to her roots, migrating back to an ancestral place, like the butterflies in her latest novel, Flight Behavior might once have done. She must feel right at home there as she has written a wonderful book set in the fictional Appalachian town of Feathertown, Tennessee. The flight of the title refers not only to the arrival of hordes of butterflies, but flights of various sorts ...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
Redneck environmentalism. Now there's a contradiction in terms.
Kingsolver's writing is up to its usual high standards, and her character development is outstanding. She just tried to stuff way too many things into one sausage casing. The result is something tough to chew, sometimes bland, and slow to digest.

In this novel, BK was fixated on long conversations while the characters are shopping. There was one with Cub and Dellarobia in the dollar store, and another with Dovey and Dellarobia in th
Jun 21, 2012 Jill rated it it was amazing
Barbara Kingsolver is one of those rare writers with whom you know what you are getting before you open the first page.

You know, for example, that the prose is going to be literary, dense, and luscious (take this descriptive line: Summer’s heat had never really arrived, nor the cold in turn, and everything living now seemed to yearn for sun with the anguish of the unloved.”) You know that the content will focus on some kind of social justice, biodiversity, or environmental issue. You know, too,
Aug 25, 2012 Laura rated it liked it
The author has a real point to make here: global warming is bad, logging is bad, they're killing the monarch butterfly population and Attention Must Be Paid. That message is interwoven with the story of Dellarobia Turnbow, a poor farmer's wife who used to have dreams of college and something better.

Dellarobia married Cub at 17, pregnant with his child. She miscarried, and rather than leave Cub and continue with her plans for college she stays, eventually having Preston and Cordelia. One day, thi
Amy Warrick
Nov 28, 2012 Amy Warrick rated it it was ok
Yes, Ms. Kingsolver knows her way around a pretty turn of phrase.

In this book, however, she uses her pretty language to dress up an unlikeable bitch and then she harangues us - on and on - about global warming, the sins of buying shoddy goods made overseas, the shameful state of rural education, hmmm, did I miss anything? People make SPEECHES in this book, as if it were conversation.

And then she has the less-bitchy friend of the bitch woman throw in old chestnuts from church bulletin boards,
Jul 24, 2012 Janet rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arc, ebooks
I adored this book. I drank it in slowly, trying to make the story last, and as a result I ended up becoming very involved in Dellarobia's life, loving her children and newfound passions while also feeling frustrated and stuck by aspects of her situation. This book is about global warming without really being all about global warming. Somehow Kingsolver, a biologist herself, has woven the frightening and undeniable crisis of global warming into a beautiful coming-of-age story about a woman whose ...more
Sep 07, 2012 Anne rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, 2012
A very difficult book to rate. I almost gave up on it, but became engaged around page 100. Though not completely engaged. It's just not that interesting, though some of the writing is very good. Not Kingsolver's best. 3 1/2 stars.
switterbug (Betsey)
Jul 10, 2012 switterbug (Betsey) rated it it was amazing
When I first heard the title to Barbara Kingsolver’s seventh novel, I thought of airplanes. Such is the orientation of the 21st century. Well, prepare to step into the rural, economically depressed farming and sheepherding town of Feathertown, Tennessee, where the shepherds flock on Sundays to commune with Pastor Bobby Ogle, their beloved and kind preacher and spiritual leader. This is the kind of repressed, technologically challenged community who believes that weather is determined by God, not ...more
Jun 30, 2012 Sara rated it it was amazing
Beautiful, moving, and articulate. Kingsolver has absolutely accomplished what she set out to do with this novel, that is, to write fiction that takes climate change for its backdrop--the first book of its kind, and momentous in doing such.

As Kingsolver puts it, poor, rural, Southerners are the people in the United States most likely to be affected by climate change. Unfortunately, they are also the demographic least likely to have any accurate information about what it is, and what that means f
Nov 24, 2012 Monica rated it really liked it
Holy fuck. That's a powerful ending.

I almost gave up on this book at first. Kingsolver brings us back to her homeland of Appalachia, where we meet Dellarobia, the main character, who feels trapped by her family life, her class, societal expectations, and Hestor, her evil-seeming mother-in-law. I felt stuck in church with Hestor, too, while reading this book but I kept on.

Warning: there's a lot of science in this book and probably more than you'll ever want to know about monarch butterflies, ak
Steve Lindahl
Feb 09, 2013 Steve Lindahl rated it it was amazing
Shelves: myshelf
Barbara Kingsolver has included a number of plot threads in her novel Flight Behavior, about subjects she cares about, including the primary one - climate change. Flight Behavior is more than either a story to get lost in or a carefully researched non-fiction book, because it is both and, to use a cliché, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. The plot threads include: someone living a life that is less than her potential, bigotry against country culture, and the way the world is affect ...more
Kingsolver two stars? Yep, two stars which I realize is akin to admitting one kicks puppies. Let the stoning begin.

This book should have come with the disclaimer that the first chapter belongs to another book altogether. Unfortunately, the first chapter was the only one worth reading. After that it was one long, preachy slog to the finish line on page 433. No spoilers for the diehard Kingsolver fan who will seek out her musings written on reusable handi-wipes.

The protagonist’s name is Dellarobia
Ravi Jain
Feb 23, 2014 Ravi Jain rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Well-intentioned but slow, condescending, somewhat predictable, and disappointing, especially considering the issues at stake.

The story tries to illuminate the climate change crisis by explaining how alien and irrelevant it feels to people in a poor, southern, rural, white, American community; and how their attitudes conflict with those of educated, relatively wealthy outsiders who are scientists.

The vehicle is Dellarobia, a mother of two married to a lunk of a farmer called Cub, on whose land
I am a big Kingsolver fan, but I was disappointed how this one dragged in the domestic life of its main character and the didactic themes about the impact of global warming on nature and about rural folk who deny its reality.

One could call this a character study about a woman in her late twenties, Dellarobbia, trapped in an unfulfilling sheep ranching life in rural Appalachian Tennessee. She was headed for college when she got pregnant at 17 and compromised her dreams by marrying Cub. He is swee
Scott Rhee
Jun 05, 2013 Scott Rhee rated it really liked it
Barbara Kingsolver, in her novel “Flight Behavior”, has brilliantly succeeded where other novelists have failed. She has written an intelligent and moving novel about global climate change without sounding preachy or pandering to either side of the political spectrum. She also doesn’t resort to lame pyrotechnics or outrageous conspiracy theories. She addresses both sides of the issue compassionately, which is interesting in itself as there is really only one side---factual evidence----and the “o ...more
Aug 07, 2013 Cher rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
1.5 stars - I didn't like it..

Despite the great opening sentence, this was a tedious and dull book about a loveless marriage between "a towering, morose man and his small, miserable wife" and "the Battle of the Butterflies". The author rehashes the same subplots over and over, which results in your ability to skim without being even the least bit lost or missing anything of significance. Extensive detail is used to discuss the mundane details of the character's daily lives such as shopping trips
Sheila Woofter
Nov 12, 2012 Sheila Woofter rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sally Howes
The only constant thing in life is change. The problem is that change is often difficult, sometimes heart-wrenching, and more and more commonly these days, devastating. Many say that Barbara Kingsolver's FLIGHT BEHAVIOR is a novel about climate change. I say that sells it a long way short. Perhaps we can look more closely and more broadly at the same time, and suggest that it is simply, complexly, a novel about change. Simplicity, complexity. It is very difficult to write a novel that contains t ...more
Feb 02, 2013 Dhitri rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, eco-fiction
Climate change, the single most important issue of our time, is one of those themes that are so vast, packed with complicated scientific concepts, obscured by political debates and made even more confusing by irresponsible media reporting, that any attempt to narrate a story that is remotely linked to it becomes an act of bravery. Barbara took the challenge a step further; she has set her story in the Bible Belt; where views on this particular issue collides the strongest but where also stereoty ...more
Ron Charles
Nov 01, 2012 Ron Charles rated it really liked it
Earlier this month, a writer in the Guardian lamented the scarcity of novels about “the most pressing and complex problem of our time”: climate change. “We don’t want to have this conversation,” complained Daniel Kramb, “and neither do most characters in most novels being published.”

As Paul Ryan would say, the dangers of this so-called crisis are debatable. Imagine if “most characters in most novels” lectured each other about climate change. I’d push the last polar bear off his melting ice floe
Nov 10, 2012 Suzanne rated it really liked it
I love and admire Kingsolver as an author. She had me at The Bean Tree. When I began Flight Progression, I was immediately taken with the names of characters: Dellarobia(I thought of the blue pigment on my water color pallette), Ovid, Byron, Hester, Cordelia, Preston. This is Appalachia. I expected Cub and Bear, short for Burley junior and senior. Of course, Kingsolver addresses these prejudices. Oh yes there's Pastor Ogle which is clearly oggle. Dellarobia points out the high road. There are so ...more
Clif Hostetler
Jul 16, 2015 Clif Hostetler rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel
This book contains parallel stories of change and new beginnings. The changes are global (i.e. climate change) and personal (i.e. marriage and family). The changes portend disaster but also promise a possible future (but different). Toward the end of the book the main character asked her son to repeat the words, “It won’t ever go back how it was.” That's true both globally and for the family in this story. At the very end of the book the author drives this point home by covering everything with ...more
May 04, 2013 Anittah rated it it was ok
Preachy, plotty, fluffy, fine.

Lowered from three stars to two on 9/29. The book has really good production values but the story is lame and it really felt like a book written by someone who just made three new friends from white Appalachia and wants to propagandize to the aspirationally liberal. If Kingsolver wants to be political she should try writing a novel that doesn't preach to the choir.
Grace Horne
Sep 27, 2016 Grace Horne rated it it was amazing
Dellarobia threw away her life for a man. She was on track to attend college, to be the first in her family to go somewhere. Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver begins with down-and-out Dellarobia living everyday the same. She takes care of her children, makes dinner, and tries to please her husband. That is, until a stranger comes to investigate some butterflies that have turned up in her backyard. Kingsolver entertains her readers with vivid writing with many ties to third wave feminism. Fli ...more
Aug 29, 2012 Lela rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It took me a little while (maybe 20%) to get into this book. However, once I did, I hated to put it down! From the beginning, the characters were completely developed and complex -- as is typical for B. Kingsolver (I've read just about everything she has written, I think.) At first I just couldn't believe in what was happening about the butterflies in the community or what was going on in Dellarobia's marriage, etc.... I believe it was what was happening with me rather than the novel itself. Tha ...more
Aug 09, 2014 Phrynne rated it really liked it
Well that was my first Barbara Kingsolver book and since everyone seems to agree it is not her best then I certainly have some really good books still to read! I really enjoyed this one. She writes beautifully descriptive prose and some of her characters are delightful. The two children, Preston and Cordelia, are perfect and I grew quite attached to Dellarobia, Dovey and Hester. I also felt very sorry for Cub who really had never done anything wrong but eventually came out the one who lost the m ...more
Roger Brunyate
May 20, 2016 Roger Brunyate rated it it was amazing
To Fly Again

Dellarobia Turnbow is about to take flight when this novel opens. Flight, as in foolish escape. By the end of it, flight has taken a different meaning: the confidence to soar above at least some of the wreckage that life has dealt her. A heartwarming metamorphosis, even though it is set against the background of a deeply-felt warning of ecological disaster. Yes, there are times when Kingsolver can get a tad preachy, but this is personal; the book is set where she herself lives, in th
Jun 16, 2014 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Monsanto......!!!!
Thomas Hardy takes a year and a half to get a horse up a hill, I know...I exaggerate a tad, and at the beginning of 'Flight Behaviour' it did cross my mind that Barbara Kingsolver was going to do much the same thing. The novel begins very slowly and at one point I did wonder whether this was going to be another bookclub novel which I would manfully finish out of wasn't. As it went on it captured my imagination and I found it enthralling.

It is the story of Dellarobia; A mother of two
Mimi Jones
Dec 29, 2012 Mimi Jones rated it really liked it
Intelligent and lyrical story about climate change literally coming to roost in a small Tennessee town.

Dellarobia Turnbow, married mother of two, is on her way to an assignation with a cute telephone repair guy in a shack on the mountain when she stumbles upon the miraculous sight of an expanse of shimmering orange, flamelike but not fire. IT turns out to be millions of monarch butterflies, come to a new wintering spot in Northeastern Tennessee after their usual roost in Mexico has been destroye
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Bookworm Bitches : November 2013: Flight Behavior 34 171 Aug 22, 2016 07:12AM  
The Transition Mo...: Flight Behavior 5 15 Jun 25, 2015 08:14AM  
Ending 55 877 Feb 08, 2015 04:52AM  
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Barbara Kingsolver is an American novelist, essayist, and poet. She was raised in rural Kentucky and lived briefly in Africa in her early childhood. Kingsolver earned degrees in Biology at DePauw University and the University of Arizona and worked as a freelance writer before she began writing novels. Her most famous works include The Poisonwood Bible, the tale of a missionary family in the Congo, ...more
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“Honk if you love Jesus, text while driving if you want to meet up.” 34 likes
“Mistakes wreck your life. But they make what you have. It's kind of all one. You know what Hester told me when we were working the sheep one time? She said it's no good to complain about your flock, because it's the put-together of all your past choices.” 21 likes
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