Monday, December 03, 2012

Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver

I have long been a Barbara Kingsolver fan and waited patiently to get my copy of her new book from the library.  I am still trying to be really, really good about not bringing more books into the house since the stack of boxes we brought home from school are a standing reminder of our addiction.  I avoided reading much of any review of the book and was very glad I didn't know the specific subject through the first two chapters - so I won't spoil the surprise for my readers in case you want to experience the anticipation that I felt while reading.  Simply put, Kingsolver takes on global warming in this expertly crafted - and very readable - novel set in her own Appalachian territory.  I say readable, because this is a book I would recommend to students and friends alike.  Kingsolver uses colloquial vernacular, contemporary cultural references - Facebook, text messages and viral videos - to cement her connection with a wide range of readers. Dellarobia is a bright but dissatisfied mother and housewife when she witnesses a spectacle in the hills around her home.  Her husband, Cub, and domineering in-laws, Hester and Bear, are forced to reckon with attention when the unnatural phenomenon brings scientists, protestors and casual gawkers to their property.  The novel seamlessly weaves religious, agro-environmental, educational, and philosophical issues. The essential debate of the novel occurs in one of the final chapters when a stereotypic media talking head shoves a camera in the face of Ovid Byron, an expert research scientist, and tries to spin what he deems a crisis into a story of uncommon beauty.

P.S. For all my former students reading this - There are several sentences in this book I would be reading aloud to you today, especially the one where she assumes her preacher took honors English in high school because he seems to "know the difference between Homer's Ulysses and the one by James Joyce, and how to get down to business with a metaphor".  I loved her minor character, Mrs. Lake the Honors English teacher, even though Kingsolver made her "about a hundred years old" and most likely "dead by now."  Ha!

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