This novel imagines that the Monarch butterflies’ annual spring migration to Mexico is disrupted by climate change in an event that forever changes the life of the main character, Dellarobia Turnbow. Set in Appalachia, the novelist’s current residence, the novel explores tensions between scientists, environmental activists, and poor rural communities over climate change.
This novel takes the form of diary entries, written from 26 year-old Cedar Songmaker to her gestating child over the course of her pregnancy. The United States may be politically collapsing and is becoming ever more violent and carceral in this process, while strange evolutionary mutations lead to the rumor that evolution has started to run backwards–together, these events lead to governmental attempts to imprison and control all pregnant people.
This is the first of two novels (Parable of the Talents) centered around a young Black teenager named Lauren Oya Olamina. Due to climate change, a scarcity of resources (especially food and water) has led to a collapse of institutions and a rapid rise in violent crime.