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Barbara Kingsolver writes a brilliant book about monarch butterfly demise

Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver


A small town woman discovers the truth about global warming despite her redneck upbringing.

Barbara Kingsolver attempts to force readers to pay attention
Photo by Getty Images/Getty Images

I have read many Barbara Kingsolver novels, but this one astounds me with its brilliance. Kingsolver has moved into new territory, as per my reading. She has let go of her personal, tribal focus and moved into global awareness and advocacy.

It's absolutely brilliant writing.

I listen to her voice, telling the story of Delallarobia Turnbow on my library Playaway tape..

"A million dead butterflies," Dellarobia observes-- a small town mother of two forced to face the reality of global warming because monarchs have chosen her backyard as their survival landscape.

I am struck by the genius of this writer, the research she has incurred attempting to tell a story of earthy proportions.

We readers fall in love with this women who reveals her good, bad and vulnerable, page after page. Kingsolver manages to paint a picture of reality the most snobbish cannot ignore. Dellarobia has the most humble of beginnings. There is nothing stilted about this small town, high school educated woman. Even the most Eastern educated, provincial of us can relate to her self-doubt, her longing to break forth from her cocoon.

As a writer, I am astonished by what Kingsolver accomplishes in this novel: her advocacy; her depth of character. I care for her Appalachian woman, even though I have been raised far, far from her uneducated, impoverished world. Dellarobia longs for more than the life she has been given; she is a fighter. You've got to give her that and much, much more.

I read Kingsolver's "Bean Trees" years and years ago, when I had small children and thought the world was a feast waiting to be consumed.

As I become a grandmother, I find her writing prowess astonishing. She makes me want to give up writing my novel. To memorize her approach to character development, to word combinations generating a very green world as if repetition of her astute observations regarding humanity will inform me like some brilliant guru. Might Kingsolver be my salvation or minimum, my inspiration?

The American writer will be in Reykjavik next April, when I attend the Iceland Writer's Retreat. Do I tell her I am in awe of how she has grown as a writer, an advocate, a lover of all things earth? Kingsolver won "the National Humanities Medal, our country’s highest honor for service through the arts."


Stay tuned. I plan to read and review more of her work. I will share with you my observations of this woman- and other famous writers- when April transforms into May.