Title: The Strange And Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavendar
Author: Lesley Walton
Release Date: 3/25/14
Reviewed by: Kate
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.
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.
Me: Incredible. I’ve been meaning to read this for a very long time now, and I’m so glad I got around to doing it.
The Ups: First of all, the language and tone is just breathtaking. In fact, the entire book is written with the choice of words that are “strange and beautiful”. They convey a eccentric kind of sorrow that correlates directly with hurt and loneliness but also convey a subtle beauty to the terrible things that have happened to the characters. Just notice the amazing language here:
“The first of many autumn rains smelled smoky, like a doused campsite fire, as if the ground itself had been aflame during those hot summer months. It smelled like burnt piles of collected leaves, the cough of a newly revived chimney, roasted chestnuts, the scent of a man’s hands after hours spent in a wood shop.”
And that is just a basic description. I also think the magical realism was just so beautifully integrated into the historical atmosphere that seemed otherworldly in itself. Of course, Ava Lavender’s wings is the center of the novel, and is completely magical realism, but every other character in this long history of the family is associated with something mythical, something exquisite.
It added another dimension to an already awesome story. It seems like the intricacies of human emotion and human ability are explored with the unexplainable abilities and happenings that occur throughout the novel. Of course, I cannot leave out the characters when talking about the book.
The book follows one family line, specifically the girls, through their individual loves and heartbreaks, romantic or symbolic. It showcases the many different attitudes towards love and caring about something, or someone, so much it makes you vulnerable. Some are closed off, completely building a barrier against any affection, while others cannot seem to throw away what they know is toxic. Every single one of the characters brought me into the story even more. They all create an unforgettable entanglement of stories and hearts.
The Downs: Not exactly a bad part to the novel, but I was quite surprised, after reading the ending of the novel, to find it was categorized in Young Adult. Just the mature voice and content that follows most characters in adulthood seemed very non-YA to me. I think that it’s because the market for YA has opened up so much.
Overall: WOW. Chilling choice of language, unforgettable characters, incredible magic.