The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender By Leslye Walton

strangeThe Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender
Author: Leslye Walton
Category: Young Adult
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Release Date: 3-25-14
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. – Goodreads













This book contains a story that involves sexual assault.

I was initially attracted to the gorgeous cover and what I found inside was a treasure of a story.  The Strange And Beautiful Sorrows Of Ava Lavender was a flowing and magical tale about three generations of women and the loves that guide their long and odd lives.  From France, to New York, to Seattle, the Roux women love and lose fiercely, all while navigating lives that were both tragic and otherworldly.  The writing in this story flowed beautifully.  The narrative voice went seamlessly from one Roux to the other.  I found myself riveted by the way the book unfolded.  Each person in the book had a story and, as a reader, we get to see them all.  Even when the pieces appeared to be disjunct, the story eventually fit together perfectly in a delightful way.  While this book bears Ava’s name, I felt that we got to know her grandmother and mother just as well.  Ava herself was the culmination of the strange and beautiful sorrows of the previous two generations, and the way the actions of her grandmother and mother flowed into Ava’s life was one of my favorite parts of the book.

This isn’t a book that I would call my usual fare, because it is wonderfully odd,  but as a fan of magical realism, I thought it was absolutely wonderful.  I sat down to read it and found that I had a very hard time putting it down to go to bed.  It’s a story that will make you smile, and think, and even shed a few tears.  Ava is the product of generations of strong, interesting and flawed women, and I was able to appreciate her because of I knew where she came from.  I think the only thing that confounds me about this book is its categorization as YA.  Not that a YA reader could appreciate it, but I’m not sure to will find its widest audience if its marketed as YA.   However, that’s not my decision to make, and it doesn’t change the fact that I loved this unique and magical story from beginning to end.  If you love magical realism, or if you’re willing to try something different, I highly recommend this book.

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6 responses to “The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender By Leslye Walton

  1. I’m not the biggest fan of magical realism, cause some books I love and others I cannot stand, but I might end up giving this one a chance.
    Great review, Kate!

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