Review: Flight Behavior

Flight Behavior

Flight Behavior
By Barbara Kingsolver
(Harper, Hardcover, 9780062124265, November 2012, 448pp.

The Short of It:

Beautifully rendered but tragic in many ways.

The Rest of It:

Dellarobia Turnbow is the mother of two, poor as can be and married to a husband who still answers to his parents. Living on a farm with a roof over your head and food on the table sounded a lot more “settled” when they were young, pregnant and without other prospects.

Now, a decade later, Dellarobia finds herself running up a mountain to have a tryst with a younger man. On her climb up, she is reminded of her place when her secondhand boots (the nicest she has ever owned) begin to pinch. Distracted momentarily by the boots, she doesn’t realize what lies before her until she looks up and sees it. Before her is a forest filled with fire. Red and orange everywhere, but no smoke. Terrified, she flees down the mountain taking it as a sign from the heavens and returns to the life she’s been given not realizing at first the implications of what remains on that mountain.

I went into this one with absolutely no idea what it was about. Have you ever done that? I’ve read many of Kingsolver’s books and although I can’t say I’ve loved all of them, I think about them often. That is the case with Flight Behavior. From the very beginning, I wasn’t sure about Dellarobia. She’s quick-witted, sharp with her tongue but essentially a good mother. As a family of four, living in a house that technically belongs to her in-laws, she struggles to make do on the farm. However, she’s really hard to like. She’s resentful of the life she has and tired of struggling financially so when she hears that the farm is in worse shape than she originally thought, all she can do is be bitter about it.

As the story unfolds and the reader is clued in on what is actually up there on the mountain, Dellarobia is given a new sense of purpose and becomes this “other” self who for me, was more likable. I found this version of her easier to relate to and I began to see her life from her point of view. Suddenly, I understood her resentment. This made the middle of the book very compelling.

But then, it all went to hell.

Not really, but sort of.

I really, really do not like it when an author shoves something down your throat and with this one, I felt as if the issue of global warming was being pounded into my head. Repeatedly. It became clear to me that the novel was really a vehicle for delivering a message she feels very passionate about.

Then, to add the icing to the cake, Dellarobia did something that totally pissed me off. Was it in character for her to have done it? Absolutely, but I was hoping she’d go a different route and how she chooses to share her decision upset me so much, that I had to mention it on Facebook. I felt as if someone punched me in the gut and I immediately disliked her again.

What I can say is this, this was a very unique read for me. My feelings were all over the place while reading this book and I was pulled in by the writing, which is often beautiful and sometimes haunting. I just wish the message had been a bit more subtle so that I could come to my own conclusion on the issue.

This would make a great book club pick because I bet readers would be equally divided over it. Some will love it, and others will find fault with much of it, but in the end appreciate the writing which is the camp I landed in. It’s passionately written, and for that I give the author credit but it’s tragic too. Tragic in that lives are changed forever and global warming is no longer something we read about.

Would I recommend it? Yes, for the discussion aspect, but know going in that there is an intentional message being sent here.

Source: Sent to me by the publisher via Edelweiss.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

You’ve Won Animal, Vegetable, Miracle!

Animal Vegetable Miracle Book Cover

The winner is: Lisa from Lit and Life! Congrats!

Review, Book Tour & Giveaway: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

Animal Vegetable Miracle Book Cover

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life
By Barbara Kingsolver
HarperCollins
April 2008
400pp

The Short of It:

This is a life-changing book for anyone who has ever stopped to think about where food comes from. Not preachy, just wonderful.

The Rest of It:

Barbara Kingsolver is known for the many books she’s written. Many of which, I have grown to love. What I didn’t know is that she is an advocate for buying local. Local produce, local meats, dairy, etc. There is a huge advantage to the planet when a purchase is made locally. When you think of fuel costs and what it costs to transport food half-way across the country, it just makes more sense to buy things locally.

In Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, Kingsolver and her family move from Tucson to their farm in the southern Appalachians for a year of growing their own food, raising their own livestock and testing out their ability to survive on what’s available to them locally. What struck me with this book is that it is truly a book of discovery. No lectures. No pointing fingers telling you what you must do, etc. It’s just a beautifully written “year in the life” memoir that happens to be about my favorite thing, food.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that this book is life-changing. It is. It really makes you question where your food comes from. As a nation, we are used to walking into a grocery store and having everything available to us at all times. Take watermelon for example. It’s available to us year-round but just because it’s available, doesn’t mean it’s good.

Think about where that melon came from for it to be available in the off-season. Then think about how much it costs to transport that fruit. If you’re so inclined, go one step further and think about taste. How fresh could it be if it was driven half-way across the country for it to end up in our shopping cart?

In addition to buying wisely, Kingsolver also touches on sustaining your family on what you can grow or raise at home. This isn’t a “how-to” book by any means but it’s gotten my wheels turning and it’s made me look at gardening in a different way. Even someone without a lot of property can grow some herbs or tomatoes to add to salads and other home cooked meals. The gesture need not be big. It could be as simple as buying produce at your local farmer’s market.

I know with my time constraints I will never have the vegetable garden that I’ve always dreamed of, but I have the land so this spring I am going to grow something. Not sure what quite yet but something good. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle has inspired me to at least try. If you’ve ever been interested in the food chain, I encourage you to read this book.

Barbara Kingsolver

To visit Barbara Kingsolver’s website, click here.

To visit the Animal, Vegetable, Miracle website, click here. The site includes recipes from the book!

To view Kingsolver’s other TLC tour stops, click here.

Source: A big ‘thank you’ to TLC Book Tours for asking me to be a part of this tour and to the publisher for providing me with a review copy of the book and a second copy to giveaway.

GIVEAWAY INFORMATION:

I am so excited to be giving away a copy of this book. If I could afford it, I’d give a copy to everyone I know. For a chance to win, read the details below and simply leave a comment under this post.

1. Open to the U.S. and Canada.

2. Make sure I have a way to contact you.

3. Giveaway is open until Sunday, 10/17/2010 (Pacific).

4. A winner will be announced on Monday, 10/18/2010.

Good luck!

What Do YOUR Tomatoes Look Like This Year?

When we moved into this house in 2007, it came with a huge yard and included a space for a vegetable garden. My son took an immediate liking to this since he has always wanted to plant his own vegetables. I don’t why, as he does not eat any vegetables. Anyway.. that first year we had a lot of yummy tomatoes.

This year, my son planted Sweet 100’s. Now, I don’t know much about gardening so when he dug and planted four of these plants, I figured we would have a steady stream of tomatoes to take us through the year after freezing and canning (like I’ve ever done this).

Let me just say that the first year, he maintained the garden. The second year…not so much. It’s on the side of the house and I rarely go out there and it cannot be seen from inside the house so when my husband told me that he wanted to pull all the plants out I was appalled! What?!? So I wandered out there. Oh my goodness. The four plants that my son planted turned into a wild, untamed jungle of sorts. I spent the next two days picking tomatoes, trimming them back, and lecturing my son about the whole incident. They taste pretty good though.

So I found it highly amusing that I came across this review of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver this morning. Kingsolver and her family make a decision to eat home-grown or locally grown food for one year and this book chronicles their efforts. I find the idea fascinating but extremely time consuming. I just don’t have the time to cultivate food for my family to eat. Even with the tomatoes, the aphids were completely out of control and I would not want to use pesticides and I know the alternative methods require a consistent hand.

Has anyone read this book? Were you inspired by it? We have the space to do something and with the cost of produce it does sound appealing. Do any of you have vegetable gardens?

Prodigal Summer, by Barbara Kingsolver

I just finished Prodigal Summer, by Barbara Kingsolver. I picked this book up twice and put it right back down again. However, the third time around I made a pact with myself to stick with it..no matter what. I am so glad I did! In hindsight, I have no idea why I had such a hard time with it the first two times. Here is the blurb from Barnes & Noble:

Over the course of one humid summer, as the urge to procreate overtakes the countryside, these characters find their connections to one another and to the flora and fauna with whom they share a place.

Rich and lush. Those are the two words that come to mind. The book takes us through three, interwoven stories about nature and love. We meet a ranger whose main task is to protect a mountain and the conflict between her and the hunter that threatens it. We also meet a young woman, overcome with grief, and how she struggles to make a life for herself on a farm. The last couple, consist of two elderly neighbors. Each trying to co-exist on their land that sits right next to each other.

There are some tender moments.. and a lot of funny ones. I found myself re-reading certain passages because they were written so beautifully. This would be a great book to kick-off summer. If you read it..let me know what you think of it.

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