Cannonball Read V: Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver
I've read most of Barbara Kingsolver's books, so when I saw that she had written a new one, I immediately put a hold on it at the library. I started reading Flight Behavior with only the general expectations that came from enjoying her previous books and no real knowledge of the plot. And on the whole, I was satisfied. The writing was good, I liked and cared about the characters, and I rushed through to the end to find out what happened to them.
Dellarobia Turnbow is a 27-year-old woman with two children. She was married at 17 to a good, honest man, but probably not the right one for her. She lives a completely secluded life in the Appalachians in Tennessee. Her family lives in a small house built by her overbearing in-laws. She can't afford a newspaper anymore, the local library has closed down, and her husband even hogs the remote. Her youthful dreams and rebelliousness have been trodden down through years of fighting for the necessities for her family. But her dissatisfaction and misdirected restlessness still remains, and that's how we find her at the beginning of the novel.
When nature takes an unexpected turn and winds up on her property, bringing a much larger world and many different influences along with it, Dellarobia's life and perspective, and ambitions grow exponentially. I realize this is all very vague; it's just my attempt at being non-spoilerish.
I liked this book. My curiosity about how everyone would turn out kept me turning the pages. I felt that Kingsolver was particularly good with showing empathy for all her characters. There weren't any "bad" people, just everyone trying to do the best from their own background and perspective. I really liked Dr. Ovid Byron and his wife's relationship, especially when viewed from Dellarobia's perspective.
Now having said all that, I didn't think this book was perfect. Kingsolver is obviously a writer with an agenda, and even though I agree with her, it did feel a little preachy at times.
***SPOILIERS*** Also, even though I could relate with stomach tightening understanding the arguments between Dellarobia and her husband, their breakup discussions always felt a little off to me. And I'm not sure why Kingsolver went in this direction, but Dellarobia seemed to stop caring about her kids by the end of the book. She told her son she was leaving her husband in a round about way the day before his birthday! And then she gave him an iPod or iPhone to make up for it. I wouldn't want my birthday forever linked to my parents' divorce. That sounds horrible. And then at the very end, water is rising all around Dellarobia, her home is floating away in the storm, and she doesn't even concern herself with her friends, relatives or even children??? "She comprehended the terms of what she saw, but couldn't turn away from it. Her children were elsewhere, at Hester's and at school, facing this by other means, as she understood they would have to do." ***SPOILERS***
Even with the couple of issues I had with this novel, I did enjoy it and would recommend it to others.
-"The better part of friendship might be holding one's tongue over the prospect of self-made wreckage." (51)
-"Nobody truly decided for themselves. There was too much information. What they actually did was scope around, decide who was looking out for their clan, and sign on for the memos on a wide array of topics." (256)
-"Things look impossible when you've not done them." (649)
(Note: Any revenue generated from purchases made through the amazon.com affiliate links in this review will be donated in entirety to the American Cancer Society.)
(Header photo courtesy National Geographic.)