Title: The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender
Author: Leslye Walton
Published: March 27th 2014 by Candlewick Press
Genre: YA, Magical Realism
My Rating: 5/5
“Love makes us such fools.”
“Foolish love appears to be the Roux family birthright, an ominous forecast for its most recent progeny, Ava Lavender. Ava—in all other ways a normal girl—is born with the wings of a bird.
In a quest to understand her peculiar disposition and a growing desire to fit in with her peers, sixteen-year old Ava ventures into the wider world, ill-prepared for what she might discover and naïve to the twisted motives of others. Others like the pious Nathaniel Sorrows, who mistakes Ava for an angel and whose obsession with her grows until the night of the Summer Solstice celebration.
That night, the skies open up, rain and feathers fill the air, and Ava’s quest and her family’s saga build to a devastating crescendo.”
I want to start by saying that I had absolutely no idea what I was getting into before reading this book. It was originally a cover buy, obviously, it’s gorgeous, but just by reading the description, I still didn’t get what the book was about.
First off, it is not just about Ava Lavender, or her wings for that matter. It gets to her, but it starts with the life of her grandmother, Emilienne, then that of her mother, Viviane, and on through the teenage years of Ava and her twin brother Henry. It spans generations of the women in her family and their tragic existence with love. And Ava’s wings are not the whole story.
Secondly, I didn’t realize this was written in lyrical prose or that it was magical realism. And frankly, I’ve never read anything like it. There is a morph between real time and existence and the fantastical. Like the movie Big Fish, it was either one big giant metaphor for something I’m not sure of, or it was just fantasy. Either way the only way I can think to describe it is strange and beautiful.
I really don’t want to give much of the plot away because every turn is such a huge part of the story. It’s constantly building on itself, characters are constantly being added and taken away and developed, but not in an overwhelming way by any means. You really get to see inside the lives of everyone introduced.
This story is drowning in tragedy. It’s full of heartbreak and love and life but it’s all told in such a beautiful and poetic manner that it’s hard to see the tragedy at times.
Honestly, I didn’t know how I felt about it at first. It really wasn’t what I was expecting and after I finished it I was just sort of lost. But after sitting with it for a time, I find that I can’t stop thinking about it. It was just so vivid, real, and yet so outrageous. I think I’m honestly in love with it.
I highly recommend Ava Lavender. But read without expectations and keep your heart open through it. Leslye Walton has created something so enthralling and gorgeous. I wish we had more from her.
Have you read The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender? What are you thoughts on the book?