The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

» 29 January, 2016 » Reviews » 11 comments

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye WaltonThe Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton
Published by Candlewick Press on March 27th 2014
Genres: Young Adult, Magical Realism
Pages: 301
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
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4 Stars

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.

I was intrigued by this book for a long time before I finally picked it up. I’d heard so many great things about it! When I found out two of my Twitter friends, Lucy and Sashana, wanted to read it too, we decided to buddy read it together! I had such a blast reading this with the two of them. I was a little nervous going into it because a lot of readers talk about this book in the same breath as Magonia (which I didn’t enjoy) – either to say they are similar or to way that one is better than the other. I’m happy to report that I enjoyed this read much more than Magonia! I can see why some people would draw a comparison, but these stories are really nothing alike!

The Story and Pacing

I would describe this book as a magical realism family saga. The first half of the story is about Ava Lavender’s grandmother and mother, and provides the reader with the history of Ava’s strange family. The second half of the story focuses on Ava and the things that happen to her. This isn’t a fast paced or exciting read, it’s more of a slow story about a girl and her family and all the things that happen to them. It’s a very character driven story in that sense.

The title of this book is perfect for what the story is about – Ava’s family is definitely strange, the story is beautiful, and there are some sad things that happen to this family. I should have known going in that this wasn’t going to be a happy story based on the title alone, but for some reason I wasn’t expecting to be as sorrowful as it was (I really couldn’t think of a different word to you there!). My least favorite part of the story was probably the ending. It has one of those endings that is left open interpretation, which I often hate. While I didn’t hate this ending (it was just alright) I do wish it had ended a little differently. The open ended ending gave us something to talk about in our buddy read though!

The Writing and Characters

I really enjoyed the writing style in this book! The writing truly is lyrical and beautiful and I loved it! Sometimes this type of writing can be hit or miss with me (Magonia and theShatter Me series are two great examples) but the writing style completely worked for me in this novel. This book has a very whimsical feel and I really enjoyed that.

I loved all the characters that made up Ava and her family – they are all so quirky and interesting! I found the history of Ava’s family so intriguing and I don’t know how Leslye Walton came up with all those ideas. There were a couple of characters that rubbed me the wrong way and I didn’t like one of the friendships in the story. View Spoiler »

In Summary

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. The story is unique, and beautifully written – even if a little sad. I recommend this book for lovers of magical realism and those who enjoy a whimsical writing style. I look forward to reading more of Leslye Walton in the future!

Jade Signature

11 Responses to “The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton”

  1. Maraia

    I’ve been on the fence about this one for a while, and your review makes me want to read it more AND less. XD Magical realism and lyrical writing are also very hit-or-miss for me, so I’m always wary, but it’s reassuring to know this booked worked for you. I don’t know how I feel about an ending left open to interpretation, though. I don’t mind open endings, necessarily, but I rarely like being left completely confused.

    • Jade @ Bedtime Bookworm

      I totally feel you on magical realism and lyrical writing – I think both things are so subjective as far as if someone thinks they were done “well”. This one definitely worked for me though! It was fairly thought provoking as well. The ending wasn’t so open that I was completely confused – it’s more like an ending that you can apply your own meaning to if that makes any sense…
      Jade @ Bedtime Bookworm recently posted…Ruin and Rising (The Grisha #3) by Leigh BardugoMy Profile

  2. Valerie

    I actually really liked Magonia, despite some flaws with it, so I’m really excited to see that you liked this even more so than the latter. And I love magical realism (sometimes, it depends on the book), so I’m hoping this is a great read for me as well. I mean, a girl with wings, very intriguing indeed!
    Valerie recently posted…ARC Review: We Are The Ants Blog Tour + GiveawayMy Profile

    • Jade @ Bedtime Bookworm

      I definitely enjoyed this one more than Magonia! They have a lot of similarities, but they are also very different. This one is much less an adventure story and much more family saga. The overall story also has a touch of sadness but is also very beautiful! I’m writing this comment long after having read it and the story is still pretty fresh in my mind, so safe to say that it left an impression on me!
      Jade @ Bedtime Bookworm recently posted…Ruin and Rising (The Grisha #3) by Leigh BardugoMy Profile

  3. Crini

    I LOVE magical realism! and that it’s about family makes me even more excited! I’ve had a copy for way too long already but I’m definitely reading it sometime this year.

    (too bad I also own a copy of Magonia LOL)
    Crini recently posted…Re-reads: January 2016My Profile

  4. Marie @ Drizzle & Hurricane Books

    This was a great review, thank you for this! I recently discovered magical realism, and realized I kind of loved it, so I need to add this book to my TBR. More than often, those kinds of writing are, as you said, either a hit or miss, so I hope this one’ll be a hit for me! 🙂
    Marie @ Drizzle & Hurricane Books recently posted…Souvenirs from across the world !My Profile