The Butterfly Effect ‘Flight Behavior,’ by Barbara Kingsolver By DOMINIQUE BROWNING Published: November 9, 2012
Dellarobia Turnbow is about to fling herself into a love affair that will wreak havoc on her placid life, and she’s worried about what she’s wearing. She’s frantic with desire, frantic with passion, also frantic for a cigarette. Her boots, bought secondhand, “so beautiful she’d nearly cried when she found them,” are killing her. It’s the wettest fall on record in southern Appalachia, and she has to be hiking in pointed-toe calfskin on a steep, muddy trail to a deserted cabin for an illicit rendezvous.
All sorts of “crazy wanting,” both prosaic and earth-shattering, are shot through the intricate tapestry of Barbara Kingsolver’s majestic and brave new novel, “Flight Behavior.” Her subject is both intimate and enormous, centered on one woman, one family, one small town no one has ever heard of — until Dellarobia stumbles into a life-altering journey of conscience. How do we live, Kingsolver asks, and with what consequences, as we hurtle toward the abyss in these times of epic planetary transformation? And make no mistake about it, the stakes are that high. Postapocalyptic times, and their singular preoccupation with survival, look easy compared with this journey to the end game. Yet we must also deal with the pinching boots of everyday life.