Barbara Kingsolver: Flight Behavior

I just finished reading Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight Behavior and I thought it would be fun do a book review and talk about what I liked about the book from a writing perspective. My first reaction: I liked this book.

I could completely identify with the main character, Dellarobia. Kingsolver did a fantastic job of showing us her life without laying on the melodrama. This character was very aware of how her decisions had landed her in a stale marriage with two kids and a dissatisfying stint as a stay at home mom. She blames no one, she doesn’t feel sorry for herself, she simply lays out the facts of what has gotten her there and how she feels about her situation. Including how she feels when she runs toward, and wants to embrace, big mistakes. But that’s not all.

Kingsolver uses a third person close narration style, where we stay in Dellarobia’s point of view the entire time. I think this choice allowed her (and us) to keep some distance from Dellarobia that kept her from becoming a tragic victim. It helped to be able to hear Dellarobia’s thoughts and watch her actions, and at the same time feel like we were watching the play unfold before us. It also kept me on the edge of my seat rooting for Dellarobia and also hoping she would make some catastrophic decision, knowing it would temporarily soothe some of her aches. The writer side of me wanted to give her fleeting relief from her mundane life as a housewife knowing it would make the situation so much worse. Kingsolver resisted, and I think the book is better for it.

I could go on, but for me these were the biggest takeaways and the best techniques to steal from one of the greats.