In this contemporary novel set in the southern Appalachians, the lives of two young women-Leda and Shannon-are knit together when one is left alone on a farm after the loss of her partner and the other is displaced by mountaintop removal coal mining.
"Book One: Way Out Farm" finds Leda trying to tease an existence out of her land. Her goats and a rescue dog are among her only contacts until she becomes close to Shannon, a single mother who has fallen on hard times due to environmental destruction of the hollow in which she lives. When Shannon takes to an RV with her children and moves away, Leda begins spending time with Shannon's troubled Gulf War veteran cousin, but the relationship reawakens the demons of her husband's struggle with mental illness.
In "Book Two: Sullivan's Holler," Shannon has taken up anti-coal activism, joining forces with a woman who she and her children now live with as a family. Shannon's son misses the hollow, and so she distracts him with stories-woven with magic realism-of their ancestors' exodus from Ireland during the Great Hunger and the settling of the homeplace. Through these tales of oppression and migration that mirror their own circumstances, they wend their way back to the mountains and those they've left behind.
In Circling Flight is as much a story of love and loss of the human kind as it is a treatise to the elemental relationship between people and their land.