A blog by the staff of the Thomas Ford Memorial Library
Dellarobia got married in high school when she found out she was pregnant. Now living the humdrum life of a farmer’s wife and constantly scraping to get by, she feels constrained by a marriage to the wrong person, and mourns the chance at college that she missed out on. Desperate to escape her present life, she heads for the hills to rendezvous with an illicit lover, but she is stopped in her tracks by an eerie sight: thousands, perhaps millions of monarch butterflies hanging from the trees on her in-laws’ Tennessee property.
Her disclosure of this phenomenon to her family sets in motion a barrage from the media and the arrival of a scientist and his crew, upending Dellarobia’s life as she knew it. Fans of Barbara Kingsolver will recognize her ability to capture small-town Appalachian life, the cadence of the language, and the everyday-ness of the action and the dialog.
Kingsolver fans will also know that she is an environmentalist, so it comes as no surprise that there is a message here about changes in our climate and their impact on wildlife. This is the real subject of this book. It is a powerful message, and though the events she describes as happening in Tennessee are fictional, the devastating floods in Mexico near the monarchs’ traditional habitat did actually occur. The reader will learn a lot about the monarch butterfly and its migratory patterns. The human story in this novel I found less compelling, but Kingsolver’s writing is always a pleasure to read.
Review by Nancy