Fiction

Review GPA: FLIGHT BEHAVIOR by Barbara Kingsolver

In Review GPA, we translate reviews of notable new books into letter grades and determine a grade point average.

flightbehaviorFlight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver

Publication Date: November 6, 2012

Publisher: Harper

Publisher’s Synopsis: “Dellarobia Turnbow is a restless farm wife who gave up her own plans when she accidentally became pregnant at seventeen. Now, after a decade of domestic disharmony on a failing farm, she has settled for permanent disappointment but seeks momentary escape through an obsessive flirtation with a younger man. She hikes up a mountain road behind her house toward a secret tryst, but instead encounters a shocking sight: a silent, forested valley filled with what looks like a lake of fire. She can only understand it as a cautionary miracle, but it sparks a raft of other explanations from scientists, religious leaders and the media. The bewildering emergency draws rural farmers into unexpected acquaintance with urbane journalists, opportunists, sightseers, and a striking biologist with his own stake in the outcome. As the community lines up to judge the woman and her miracle, Dellarobia confronts her family, her church, her town, and a larger world, in a flight toward truth that could undo all she has ever believed.”

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Ron Charles for The Washington Post

Gold Star: ““Flight Behavior” isn’t trying to reform recalcitrant consumers or make good liberals feel even more pious about carpooling — so often the purview of environmental fiction — it’s just trying to illuminate the mysterious interplay of the natural world and our own conflicted hearts.”

Demerit: “Kingsolver has trouble maintaining forward momentum. “Flight Behavior” is never dull, but the energy leaks out of the story, which sometimes seems allergic to its own drama.”

Grade: A-

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Beth Jones for The Telegraph

Gold Star: “Absorbing and entertaining, Flight Behaviour engages the reader in the quotidian details of Dellarobia’s life, while insisting that we never forget the crumbling world beneath her, and our, feet.”

Demerit: None

Grade: A

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Karen Valby for Entertainment Weekly

Gold Star: “…the novel really soars in the exquisitely drawn scenes where a strapped woman feels claustrophobic in a dollar store or panicked during a job interview or wistful for her bright young son’s future. Dellarobia is a smart, fierce, messy woman, and one can’t help rooting for her to find her wings.”

Demerit: “Kingsolver sometimes undercuts her own grace as a storyteller by filling her characters’ mouths with clunky polemics about, say, global warming or the class system.”

Grade: B (grade given by reviewer)

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Joanne Wilkinson for Booklist Online

Gold Star: “…readers will be well and truly smitten with feisty, funny, red-haired Dellarobia and her determined quest to widen the confines of her world.”

Demerit: “[Kingsolver] sets the hook of her fascinating story before launching into activist mode with more than a few pointed speeches delivered by an eminent scientist (and Kingsolver stand-in).”

Grade: A-

Review GPA: A- (3.7)