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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 several Barbara Kingsolver novels, but this one astounds me with its brilliance. Kingsolver has moved into global awareness and advocacy- or I have been late witnessing this transformation.

I listen to her actual voice, reading the story of Delallarobia Turnbow on a library Playaway.

"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.

I fall in love with this narrator, who reveals her good, bad and vulnerable, page after page. Dellarobia has humble beginnings, yet the small town, high school educated woman grasps more of life than most. Even snobs among us can relate to her self-doubt, her longing to break from the 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 the young woman's poverty. Dellarobia longs for more than the life she has been given; she is a fighter to be admired.

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. Now a grandmother, I observe her approach to character development, to word combinations as if absorbing and reabsorbing her craft and humanity will improve my writing. And, gosh darn, it will.

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.

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