I really loved The Poisonwood Bible. It’s been years since I read it, but I have very fond memories of the outstanding writing and character development. The book forced me to grapple with some serious issues. I haven’t read any more of Barbara Kingsolver’s books since (though there are a few on my shelf), so it was time. Then I found Flight Behavior on the shelf at my local library.
I enjoyed this book. Similar to Poisonwood, this book intertwined themes of religion, faith, sustainability, and cultures clashing. Science running into culture. Education running into tradition. Set in Arkansas, the book took me into a world that seems like another planet to me.
Dellarobia is trapped in a marriage and a family that are less than she hoped for. She starts asking questions about a piece of land the family is about to sell, which leads to the discovery of a mountain side full of monarch butterflies. Initially seen as a miracle, scientists soon arrive eager to understand the reason and meaning of the phenomenon. Dellarobia is stuck in the middle – eager to expand her world with the possibilities science brings while part of the family with their financial backs so far against the wall there seems no other option other than to clear cut this ‘miracle site’.
Mixed into the story is plenty of preaching about the dangers of climate change the imminent demise of our planet. I felt this part was poured on a little thick (and I’m very sympathetic to the cause).
This was a good book, but it wasn’t an exceptional book. The romance storyline (poor Dellarobia trapped in a marriage to a cave man by her unplanned teenage pregnancy seeking escape in the arms of the scientist passing through town) is thin. True, it’s not usually a scientist in the role of the romantic lead, but the story’s still the same.
I really felt like Kingsolver could have done more with this premise, and I wish she had.