Friday, September 19, 2014

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton (Review by Guest Blogger Anna)


Author: Leslye Walton
Publisher: CandleWick Press
Publish Date: March 25th 2014 
Page Amount: 301 Pages
Price: $17.99 Hardback
ISBN: 0763665665 (ISBN13: 9780763665661)

“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” (Goodreads Description)

Review by Guest Blogger Anna

It is rare that I find a newly released book I like. It is even rarer still that I find one I love.

That is why The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender is a rare gemstone on my bookshelf.

I bought this book on a whim. A very lucky whim. In some ways I feel as though that choice drained my luck for the rest of the year. Allow me to set the scene:

It’s a hot Summer's day in the south. I am about to go on a twentyone hour road trip with my family. I walk into the bookstore straight to my coveted YA section. In fifteen minutes I I had a large pile of books. Just before I left, my father grabbed Ava Lavender and asked me if I have read it. I said no. Then he forced me to get it.

Now I will be the first to admit. Ava Lavender has the prettiest cover I have ever seen. I bought it without having even read the blurb.

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender is this first book I have ever read in which I stopped and marveled at the word choice.

“To many, I was myth incarnate, the embodiment of a most superb legend, a fairy tale. Some considered me a monster, a mutation. To my great misfortune, I was once mistaken for an angel. To my mother, I was everything. To my father, nothing at all. To my grandmother, I was a daily reminder of loves long lost. But I knew the truth — deep down, I always did.”

“I was just a girl”

I feel as though Leslye Walton spent hours making sure every single sentence was the best it could be. The words flowed so elegantly. The lyrical prose enriched the novel rather than making it tedious. The abundance of characters did not draw away from the charm of the story. It was in all ways like a fairy tale-The Grimm’s kind where the stepsisters in Cinderella cut their heels off to fit into the glass slipper.

The premise of the book is rather simple. A family where love and misfortune go hand in hand. A girl born in a normal world with wings, Ava. Ava’s struggle to fit in in a world where she could not be less unusual. It’s so much more than that story though. The world-though actually mostly set in the 1950’s-made me feel as though I too was a resident of Pinnacle Lane.

The real strength of this book was the writing. The writing made me laugh, made me weep, made me throw my book at the wall.

“Happiness had a pungent smell, like the sourest lime or lemon. Broken hearts smelled surprisingly sweet. Sadness filled the air with a salty, sea-like redolence; death smelled like sadness.” 

Ava was a beautifully flawed, beautiful character, overall entirely believable. Not one character in this novel was perfect, but not one was entirely hate-able (...well, maybe Nathaniel Sorrows). This novel captured the very essence of being a human in such a perfect way that you could relate to any character, most especially Ava -ask yourself, are the wings truly just wings people ogle at?

So all I can really say I run to your bookstores, buy a copy. Read it. Cry over it. Love it. Live for it. Then sit back and wait for the fans to come rolling in.

Rating: 10 out of 10 Stars

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