Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver (Harper Collins Audio, 2012).
Read by the author in a soft Southern lilt, this is the latest novel from the author of The Bean Trees and The Poisonwood Bible. Labeled Women’s Fiction on the box, it could also be categorized as “climate change fiction” along with Kim Stanley Robinson’s Forty Signs of Rain (one of my favorite books). In Flight Behavior, Kingsolver hits both the climate change issue and the political polarization of the United States head-on. The main character is a strong young woman living in a conservative religious culture who realizes that she is smart enough to think for herself. She helps the scientist who comes to study the monarch butterflies that appear on her family’s Tennessee land, and learns what it’s like to do science on a daily basis. In struggling to explain her life to outsiders, she gains a better understanding of why her family and her community behave the way they do, and how she wants to live. In the author’s note we learn that the monarchs are still wintering in Mexico (so far), but the fictional scenario of their mistaken shift to Tennessee is not impossible with current climate trends.