There are not many secular books that bring Christianity and climate change (amongst other things) together but “Flight Behaviour” by Barabara Kingsolver is one. I recently came across this book and thought it looked interesting. In “Flight Behaviour” the chief protagonist Dellarobia (who was trapped into a shotgun marriage to a dull but likeable husband) is on her way up to a remote hut in the Tennessee mountains to commit adultery with someone she barely knows. She is is stopped in her tracks by millions of Monarch butterflies who it turns out have migrated to the wrong place due to climate change.
Before long Dellarobia‘s church, the local town, climate activists, sightseers and scientists are all involved in the story of the butterflies. Science, faith and family secrets all unfold. For someone who does not claim to be a Christian Kingsolver writes fairly convincingly about the church the family attend which I realised after a bit is an emerging or emergent church (cannot remember the difference). She also writes convincingly about the inside of a lab and the science involved. It turns out she studied a scientific degree and briefly worked as scientist.
I read Kingsolver’s factual “Animal, Vegetable, Mineral” which was brilliant. Did I enjoy “Flight Behaviour”? I’m not sure its a book you are supposed to enjoy. It could have been shorter. I had to read it in small chunks, although its an easy read I found the subject matter heavy going. The characters are believable, Dellarobia‘s best friend Dovey is priceless. I fear its portrayal of small town Southern State America and its suspicion of outsiders, science in general and climate change in particular- was accurate; and its portrayal of the cynical media. Other than climate change there is a little bit of mention of energy security, but not peak oil per se.
One bizarre aspect of the book was the strange character names. Have you met anyone called Ovid, especially from the US Virgin Islands? Finally flight Behaviour refers not just to the butterflies but is a metaphor for other aspects of the characters in the book. I’d give it 6.5/10, not a book to cheer you up with hopeful escapism, but a worthwhile read all the same.