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Flight Behavior

3.73  ·  Rating Details  ·  57,515 Ratings  ·  8,225 Reviews
"Kingsolver is a gifted magician of words."

The extraordinary New York Times bestselling author of The Lacuna (winner of the Orange Prize), The Poisonwood Bible (nominated for the Pulitzer Prize), and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, Barbara Kingsolver returns with a truly stunning and unforgettable work. Flight Behavior is a brilliant and suspenseful novel set in present d
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)
Beautiful Ruins by Jess WalterThe Round House by Louise ErdrichBring Up the Bodies by Hilary MantelBehind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine BooThis Is How You Lose Her by Junot Díaz
New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2012
7th out of 100 books — 490 voters
The Fault in Our Stars by John GreenInsurgent by Veronica RothGone Girl by Gillian FlynnCity of Lost Souls by Cassandra ClarePandemonium by Lauren Oliver
Best Books of 2012
247th out of 3,187 books — 9,430 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
Nov 06, 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
Jan 12, 2015 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
Aug 09, 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 27, 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
Feb 13, 2013 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,
Jun 08, 2013 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
Dec 10, 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)
Aug 03, 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
Jul 15, 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
Jun 12, 2013 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
May 13, 2015 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
Feb 21, 2014 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
Mar 25, 2016 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
Feb 12, 2013 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 07, 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
Dec 14, 2013 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 28, 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
Dec 04, 2013 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
Sep 29, 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.
Aug 12, 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
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
Jan 18, 2013 Clare rated it it was amazing
Despite the obvious parallels between the butterfly life cycle and the metamorphosis of the main character, Dellarobia, Kingsolver has managed to tell many stories here without hammering us with the symbolism. Married and pregnant at 17, ten years later Dellarobia is about to walk away from a marriage that should never have been. That she loves her children is obvious, but that doesn't mean she loves her life. She's on her way up the mountain for a tryst, to cross a line from which there can be ...more
Mimi Jones
Jan 09, 2013 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
Ron Charles
Nov 22, 2013 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
Dec 23, 2012 Ricky rated it liked it
Would like to give this one 3.5 stars. Didn't like it as much as I thought I would. Though her research is phenomenal and social messages important, I found her characters too pat and her story telling tiresome. I keep holding on to the author for her early novels, but I've been disappointed in her last three, though I like this one much better than Lacuna and Prodigal Summer. Not sure I will be as quick to put her next books on my must-read list.
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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.” 30 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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