Length: 436 pages
Setting: a small town in southern Appalachia, present day
Interest: It’s Kingsolver’s newest book that I saw in the new book pile at the library and couldn’t pass up.
Summary: Dellarobia is an unsatisfied mother of two on her way to the family’s turkey hunting shack to start an affair, when she sees a vision of fire on the mountain that makes her decide to recommit to her marriage. Turns out the fire was monarch butterflies that have inexplicably decided to overwinter on their hillside. A monarch scientist, Ovid, comes to their farm to study the monarchs, and Dellarobia is drawn into his scientific world. While learning more about science in general, and monarchs and climate change in specific from Ovid, Dellarobia begins to come to terms with her family and in-laws. Bear, her father-in-law, wants to log the hillside, but with Dellarobia’s help, he’s convinced not to. Ovid is worried the conditions at the site won’t be sufficient for overwintering success, but at least some of the monarchs make it.
Final thoughts: I loved this book and couldn’t put it down. I loved how Kingsolver was able to weave a strong story about climate change and how scientists can’t fathom all the ramifications associated with it into a story about butterflies, something everyone can picture and love. I think I’m going to see if I can get my mother to read it so she understands more about what climate change really means, and that it’s not left-wing propaganda.
On top of the science was a great story about the characters. Poor Dellarobia wasn’t satisfied with her life, but couldn’t picture anything else. Her mother-in-law never let herself get attached to her grandkids because she figured Dellarobia would leave some day. With the setting a small town in the Appalachians, it felt as close to third world conditions as you can get in the U.S., with some First World Problems showing up that the locals just couldn’t understand. Kingsolver definitely understand the divide between the intellectuals on the coasts and the people just trying to survive. Overall, I highly recommend the book.
Title comes from: Both the behavior of the monarchs and Dellarobia.
Reading challenges fulfilled: 15/100 in the Read-a-Latte Challenge.