The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton
Publication: March 27th, 2014 by Candlewick Press
Number of Pages: 301
Genre: Magical Realism, Fantasy, YA, Romance, Historical
Source: Public library
Magical realism, lyrical prose, and the pain and passion of human love haunt this hypnotic generational saga.
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.
First-time author Leslye Walton has constructed a layered and unforgettable mythology of what it means to be born with hearts that are tragically, exquisitely human.
Edit 3/31/16: This has been sitting in my drafts for forever and I’ve sort of edited it at least twice so I figure I should just publish it before I totally forget about it.
FIVE FUCKING STARS OUT OF FIVE.
This literally was the book that fixed it all. After x amount of books that were only okay, this book became one of the few five stars that I’ve read this year!
The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender was whimsical and beautiful in a way that really appealed to me. I love magical realism books with have a touch of bittersweet emotion and this book delivered.
This book is less about Ava Lavender and more about her entire family. Many people complained that they thought it was misleading that the book was titled The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender when it wasn’t primarily about her, but I thought it was appropriate considering the final climax and events in the book. Overall, it follows the entire family tree of Ava’s ancestry. It’s quirky, interesting, and extremely fun! It’s a little bitter at times but it’s extremely happy at others. Bittersweet at it’s finest!
What I love about a good fantasy novel is world building. But what I LOVE even more is a great atmosphere. The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender was extremely atmospheric. You could practically smell the scents and breathe in the air of the town. Okay that sounds a little weird, but my point is that it was really well built! The town and individual settings were all vividly portrayed. I’m pretty sure that if I had hypothetically hated everything else, the atmospheric quality of this book would have made me power through.
The writing was also gorgeous. Fluid and descriptive without falling into the purple prose category. I usually don’t notice writing but this time I did! I fell in love with the connection and flow of the story. It’s written chronologically and in a way that makes it feel like we’re flying through the historical elements of the book. The format of the book actually reminds me a lot of The Boy Who Granted Dreams, a book I read and reviewed a while ago. It’s similar in it’s atmospheric setting, plot progression, etc. And it’s those aspects that I loved in both books!
I also thought that the relationships and romances were overall, well done. The romance isn’t too ridiculous or unrealistic. There’s a lot of themes that I liked even if they were extremely negative. I actually thought the way they were portrayed were beautifully done. Now, I wouldn’t recommend going to this book for romance advice, though. The overlying theme with the family is that they have horrible luck in love. I definitely thought that some of the choices of the characters weren’t so smart but honestly, they didn’t bother me all that much.
Another thing that I loved was the foreshadowing. I love it when authors have really good foreshadowing and in this book, it was extremely obvious that the author was leading up until a big event. Sure, I wasn’t completely surprised by what happened. To be honest, I was desperately hoping it wouldn’t happen because it would fall into the category of winged-people cliche. But when it did happen, I found that surprisingly, I didn’t mind at all. I don’t care that I figured out the ending. The author intended for us to. And to me, if it’s intended then I can’t fault them for making it predictable, especially when it’s handled so well.
Overall, I could honestly just spew out countless aspects of this book that I loved but I don’t know if anybody will truly get what I’m saying unless they read it.
SO DO IT.