Wow. My first introduction to Barbara Kingsolver was her classic novel of a disastrous mission to the Congo, ‘The Poisonwood Bible’. That book, and her later ‘The Lacuna’ set in 1950’s Mexico packed years of hidden history into an engaging story with unforgettable characters. Kingsolver’s latest book, Flight Behaviordoes the same with climate change– making big events understandable through the people who battle crazy weather and an economy stacked against them.
Dellarobia Turnbow and her husband Cub, parents of 2 young children and not yet out of their 20’s, are trying to work a small farm that has been deluged with 100 year rains and strained by almost a decade of recession. Their marriage- on track for a mundane breakup, and their daily lives are thrown off balance by the arrival of several million Monarch butterflies in an evergreen grove on Cub’s family land. Cub’s father, Bear, has already signed away the land to a logging company for clear-cutting– a plan complicated by the arrival of sight-seers and entomologists.
The central fact of Dellarobia’s life– things can’t go on this way–is the central theme of the book. She’s seen at the beginning fleeing from a stifling marriage, at the end she has more than something to run from, but nowhere is solid ground.
Barbara Kingsolver cites Bill McKibben, author of Eaarth, in the afterword of her book. The call to act on climate change is growing louder, the story is not over.