By Awnali Mills
When I was haunting the adult audiobooks looking for my next listen, one of my colleagues recommended Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver, and read by the author.
Dellarobia Turnbow married her high school boyfriend when she got pregnant, and stayed married when they lost the baby because she had nowhere else to turn, and, well, that’s just what you do, right? They’ve had two more children since then, but Dellarobia isn’t any happier in her marriage. She wants more out of life, sure that a man who is more interesting than her husband might fill her need for more. And then she discovers the butterflies.
Monarch butterflies have suddenly descended on the mountain above her home. There are millions of them, setting the mountain on fire with their brilliant orange wings. She and her family, and then her town are enchanted. But soon a tall entomologist, Ovid Byron, shows up and teaches them that this is a catastrophic symptom of a world terribly out of whack. Cold temperatures will decimate the butterflies, and Dellarobia’s Appalachian home is not a warm place. Will the butterflies survive? Whether they do or not, their appearance will change Dellarobia’s life forever.
I loved this book. It took me a while to get into it, and I didn’t always appreciate Dellarobia’s behavior, but she’s a wonderful, complicated protagonist. Having the book read by Kingsolver was a treat, because she read it like it must have sounded in her head when she wrote it. She makes a character who is not always loveable become someone you root for and sympathize with. I really wanted the other characters in the book to grow and change, especially Cub and Hester. Kingsolver successfully peels back layers of history to reveal why the characters are the way they are, and makes you understand them better. The book is also a well-crafted discourse on global warming, although it is based on a fictional event.