Charlottesville isn’t quite part of Appalachia, but we’re pretty close! Opinions were mixed on the Brown Baggers’ latest read, Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver, but as always, a lively discussion ensued. Almost everyone in the room was familiar with other works by Kingsolver, so it was interesting to compare and contrast this title with the rest of the author’s canon.
Kingsolver earned degrees in biology and often tackles social or environmental issues in her work, even establishing a literary prize for writing addressing social change. Our group found the discussion of climate change and the tension between science and religion to be an intriguing part of the work, although a few group members felt this exploration occasionally came across as preachy or a bit contrived. Others felt that although it may have been slightly manipulative, they enjoyed the fact the novel challenged their viewpoints and made them slightly uncomfortable.
Another theme of the work that the group discussed were the unique family dysfunctions and dynamics presented in the book. A lot of these points also were tied into the socio-economic tensions laid out between the characters. Some group members debated whether some of the town’s unique character was specifically Southern or just indicative of an American small town.
For further information:
“The Year the Monarch Didn’t Appear” by Jim Robbins – A 2013 New York Times article about threats to the monarch butterflies’ migratory habits.
“Barbara Kingsolver’s got the Red State blues in ‘Flight Behavior'” by Hector Tobar – A review of Kingsolver’s book in the Los Angeles Times.
Join the Brown Baggers next month on February 20 at noon to discuss M.L. Stedman’s The Light Between Oceans.