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Flight Behavior

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  77,680 ratings  ·  9,734 reviews
Flight Behavior transfixes from its opening scene, when a young woman's narrow experience of life is thrown wide with the force of a raging fire. In the lyrical language of her native Appalachia, Barbara Kingsolver bares the rich, tarnished humanity of her novel's inhabitants and unearths the modern complexities of rural existence. Characters and reader alike are quickly ...more
Kindle Edition, Reprint Edition, 610 pages
Published November 6th 2012 by Harper (first published November 1st 2012)
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Mom I am not a scientist but I appreciated the science. Did find myself skimming the science sections a few times to get back to the story, so for me, a…moreI am not a scientist but I appreciated the science. Did find myself skimming the science sections a few times to get back to the story, so for me, a bit less science would've been fine.

I appreciated the sociological insights the most.... how/why some people can doubt climate change and resist scientific information. The book increased my understanding of those who don't think as I do.(less)
Jean A better description for this novel is cli-fi: fiction based on climate change. See my Goodreads blog for more books of this type.

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Will Byrnes
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
Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
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
...more
Jeanette
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
...more
Jill
Jun 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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,
...more
Amy Warrick
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,
...more
Laura
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,
...more
Janet
Jul 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Barbara

Dellarobia Turnbow, an unhappy young farm wife living in Feathertown in Appalachia, is about to embark on an extramarital affair when the sight of a blazing orange forest changes her mind. It turns out the startling sight is caused by millions of Monarch butterflies covering the trees, far from their usual winter home in Mexico.



The biological oddity attracts widespread attention, and theories about its cause range from an act of God to a world gone haywire from climate change.

Dr. Ovid Byron, a
...more
switterbug (Betsey)
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
Anne
Sep 07, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Sara
Jun 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Ravi Jain
Feb 23, 2014 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
...more
Janet
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
...more
Monica
Nov 24, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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,
...more
Steve Lindahl
Feb 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Camie
Dec 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oh Barbara Kingsolver, how I loved the Bean Trees and The Poisonwood Bible, and now I am finally catching up on some of her newer work. Here using an actual tragic incident in Mexico(2010) that affected the migration of the entire North American population of Monarch butterflies, Kingsolver has written a fictional story of their relocation to a small Appalachian town. As Dellarobia, a young mother who is discouraged with her life and the disappointing results of her "shotgun " marriage, steals ...more
Michael
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
...more
Cher
Aug 07, 2013 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
...more
☮Karen
5 stars for the book + 5 stars for the narration

The Monarch Butterfly is the state insect of my home state, and while growing up they were everywhere, a fascination to me. Their perfectly symmetrical coloring and markings remind me of cut glass windows like those I used to get lost in during long sermons at my childhood church.

Both the butterflies and that church are relics of the past. Maybe we can bring back the Monarchs before it's too late.

This book, while a fictional account of butterfly
...more
Lorna
Aug 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Flight Behavior is author Barbara Kingsolver's stunning novel where she returns to her roots in Appalachia to write an endearing and sobering tale of the life of Dellarobia Turnbow as she encounters the migration of the Monarch butterflies, normally from Canada to Mexico, but that process has somehow gone awry. This is the background of this exquisite novel that explores the comparison of the Monarch butterflies that are forced to alter their pattern due to the climate changes in order to ...more
Libby
Climactic disruption has become ever more evident since this book’s publication in 2012, seven short years ago. Just look at the 2018 IPCC’s (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) statement “even temporarily overshooting 1.5 degrees C may have irreversible impacts on our natural systems, including biodiversity loss or pushing past various climate tipping points.” Barbara Kingsolver targets the monarch butterfly to give readers some idea of the vast complexity and consequences of the world ...more
Scott Rhee
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 “ ...more
Book Concierge
Audiobook read by the author


Dellarobia Turnbow is ten years into a marriage that has never satisfied her. Unsure how to deal with her restlessness she flirts with a younger man, a telephone lineman, and suggests a tryst in a hunter’s blind deep in the woods behind her home. But as she climbs to this ill-thought-out meeting, she encounters a strange sight that literally stops her in her tracks. The only way she can describe it is “a lake of fire.”

Kingsolver has crafted a story of one woman’s
...more
Rebecca McNutt
I don't like books that shove a political or environmental agenda at me, but Kingsolver's book is quite well-written all that aside. It's witty, at times even hilarious, and an interesting commentary on two ordinary characters who seem too small for the problematic times they find themselves in. Flight Behavior (my Canadian SpellCheck keeps on trying to tell me that I spelled "behavior" wrong without adding a "U" to it) is an unorthodox sort of story. It's vague, simple and seems to carry a ...more
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 ...more
Sheila Woofter
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ron Charles
Nov 01, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Michael Belcher
Jan 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: life-changers
The truest test of a book’s transcendence is that you leave it with three feelings: an infinite sensation of fullness, a sting of immeasurable loss for having to depart a place and a life you have lived in, even if only for a short time, and the seething envy that someone could write a book so phenomenal (and that you could never measure up as a writer — I guess that’s a fourth feeling).

“Flight Behavior” is my initiation into the land of Barbara Kingsolver, and I have no doubt that I will be
...more
Dhitri
Feb 02, 2013 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 ...more
Anittah
May 04, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
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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
“Honk if you love Jesus, text while driving if you want to meet up.” 41 likes
“Will you explain to me why people encourage delusional behaviour in children, and medicate it in adults?” 28 likes
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