Dellarobia Turnbow is living a life that doesn't feel authentic. She is a young mother living in rural Tennessee, who gave up on her dream of going to college, when she discovered that she was pregnant. Now, she is in her late-twenties and completely discontent in her life. Her husband is good to her, but they have little in common and Dellarobia has a string of affairs to try to fill the void. Her own family has long since died and her in-laws have never quite made her feel like part of the family. She feels isolated and trapped.
One day, Dellarobia comes across what appears to be a miracle in the woods behind her farm. On her property is millions of monarch butterflies that have migrated to the area. When word gets out about the butterflies, Dellarobia finds herself caught between various opinions as to the reason for their migration and the importance of respecting their new habitat. The butterflies bring new people and new opportunities into Dellarobia's life and she begins to feel less trapped by her circumstances.
I'm a fan of Barbara Kingsolver. With the exception of Prodigal Summer, I've enjoyed all of her other novels. Flight Behavior left me feeling uncertain. I liked the setting and the overall premise. I thought that Dellarobia was a well-rounded, complex character and even if I didn't quite like her, I could understand her. Her flaws and mistakes made her feel like a real person. Kingsolver did a solid job of making Dellarobia's world come alive. I felt a bit oppressed reading about the farm life in rural Tennessee and the day-to-day of this poor family. Much of the story is very "Slice-of-life", a style that I quite enjoy, in particular, there are many wonderful dialogue scenes between the characters.
The book felt preachy. I don't need to be sold on the idea of global warming. I've been taught in writing classes not to write a story from a place of an agenda, to let the characters drive the story, not a concept. I often felt like the characters were overshadowed by the environmental message in this story. I happen to agree with the message, so it was preaching to the choir. However, it was the message being so blatant, that made the book off-putting. This was my biggest issue with the story.
Aside from the preachiness, I thought that the story ran long and often had sluggish pacing. It took me longer than it should have to read it, because I kept picking up other stories and setting it aside.
Kingsolver is a great writer, but this isn't her best novel.