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January 10, 2013 / Leslie

Review – Audiobook: Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver

Flight Behavior by Barbara KingsolverFlight Behavior
by Barbara Kingsolver
Narrated by Barbara Kingsolver

Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: HarperAudio
Publish Date: November 6, 2012
Format: Audio, 16 hours | 56 minutes
Audio Listening Level: Easy
Rating: 5 of 5

Dellarobia’s plans for college were ruined when she got pregnant and married at 17; she miscarried but stayed with her husband and eventually had two children. Now 10 years later the family farm is failing, she feels disconnected from her husband and is contemplating an affair with a younger man. While walking up a mountain road to meet with her potential lover she sees a brilliant explosion of orange and thinks she is seeing fire, a sign to return back home.

What Dellarobia actually saw were thousands of Monarch Butterflies, butterflies that should be wintering on a mountain in Mexico, not in Appalachia, where Dellarobia lives. Scientists and the media descend upon the small town. Dellarobia takes a job assisting one of the scientists, Dr. Byron, with his research. Spending time in the research lab awakens her desire for knowledge and as the story progresses we observe her own personal growth and increase in self-confidence.

I loved this book. The story is written in an engaging style with beautifully descriptive prose and a touch of humor. Dellarobia’s character was well-developed and, although I am far removed from her circumstances, I had much empathy for her situation. The author’s opinions are evident as she contrasts the local folks poverty vs the wealth of the outside visitors, the city vs country, science vs religion and the value of education. Some may find it preachy but my innate interest in nature, ecology and our planet in general caused me to look at it in an educational light. Yes, the butterfly migration is fiction, but much of the science discussed is fact.

I listened to the audio version and at almost 17 hours I was surprised at how fast I finished; the time flew past. The author did the narration giving a nice performance with perfect Appalachian accents and a very believable Virgin Island accent for Dr. Byron. Changes in characters voices were easy to follow making this an audiobook that I would recommend to listeners new and experienced. I am not always a fan of author’s narrating their own books, but Kingsolver is one of the exceptions (my other being Neil Gaiman, for those who need to know).

In the recent past, the ecology movement was a cause most people supported; clean air, water and protection for our planet. Today, climate change and global warming has become a political football that many don’t want to touch. Kingsolver has never shied away from writing about controversial subjects. Flight Behavior is a beautiful story set against the backdrop of thousands of Monarch Butterflies appearing in Appalachia instead of their customary winter roosting grounds in Mexico, but it’s also an important message about caring for the world we live in and leaving it a better place.

A well-researched, thoughtful book that I highly recommend.

Source: Review copy from HarperAudio.
© 2012 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.


Leave a Comment
  1. debbierodgers / Jan 10 2013 12:15 pm

    I just finished reading the paper copy of this last night. You did such a great job at summarizing the plot, Leslie. Kingsolver“s prose, as always, is beautiful and the only issue she might have been preachy on –backed up with solid facts — is climate change.

    I agree with you – highly recommended.


    • techeditor / Jan 11 2013 6:25 am

      I’ve never read a Kingsolver novel and wanted to start with this one. But this is exactly why I didn’t. I don’t want to be preached at about climate change.


      • Leslie / Jan 11 2013 9:05 am

        She definitely makes her opinion known but she also uses a lot of real science to back up her position.


  2. BermudaOnion / Jan 10 2013 2:31 pm

    I have this in print and am anxious to read it since I love Kingsolver’s work but, boy have you made the audio sound appealing.


  3. Mary / Jan 10 2013 5:51 pm

    Great review, Leslie. I’ll keep this one in mind!


  4. Diane@BibliophilebytheSea / Jan 10 2013 7:51 pm

    Loved it as well, but read the eBook


  5. therelentlessreader / Jan 11 2013 9:52 am

    Beautiful review! I enjoyed this book as well 🙂


  6. Leeswammes / Jan 11 2013 2:43 pm

    Glad you liked it! It was one of my favorite books of last year.


  7. stacybuckeye / Jan 15 2013 2:16 pm

    I loved Prodigal Summer and this one looks great too. I always like to listen to an author read his or her work, most of the time it works for me. Although if an author reads every book then all the characters start to feel interchangeable (yes, I’m talking about you, Elizabeth Berg!)


    • Leslie / Jan 17 2013 2:03 am

      I haven’t has a good a luck with author’s doing their own reading. I’m guessing you haven’t listened to The Shoemaker’s Wife? I loved the story but the author’s narration…. ehhh.

      I’ve read Elizabeth Berg but haven’t listen to anything by her yet.


  8. nrlymrtl / Jan 19 2013 4:20 pm

    This one’s on my list to read this year. I listened to her nonfiction about her and her family and their choice to try to eat seasonally and locally. Very interesting and so I expect her fiction works are also excellent reads.


  9. susanbright / Mar 9 2013 4:02 pm

    I love audio books but usually avoid them if they are more that 11, 12 hours. This one sounds like it may be an exception to my rule. Thanks for the recommendation!


  10. Vicki Hale / Mar 20 2013 8:28 am

    I have never tried audio books, I have a kindle, but I have never used voice on it. I am looking forward to trying an audio. This review was very helpful


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