15751398

 

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender

By: Leslye Walton

Released: March 25th, 2014 by Candlewick Press

Length: 320 Pages

Genre: YA Fantasy-magical realism

Rating: Five Stars

Acquired: via netgalley

 

Born with feathers, and a silent twin, Ava Lavender narrates the story of the three generation of women in her family that faced love– the fanciful phase, the heartbreak, loss, and everything that comes with it in a moving tone.

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender is one of those books I couldn’t put down. Full of magical realism, it pulls you in from the beginning. Starting with a very brief detail of Ava’s extraordinary birth, she begins to tell the story of her female ancestors, based on a single emotion-love. And, oh, how these Roux/Lavender women have been affected. And, how unique they all are. After the great-grandfather dies, after being mistaken from someone else and is gruesomely murdered, while the wife maman, and everyone else, thinks he left with another woman begins to almost melt until she literally becomes a pile of blue ashes in their sheets. Then her daughter, Pierette, becomes a bird for the man she loves who never loved her back. A bird! There’s another sister who carves her own heart out after she gives birth to a child whose father is the betrothed to her older sister- Emilienne, all out of love. Emilienne is Ava’s grandmother in the story who lost her husband early on in the marriage, but not before giving birth to their daughter Viviane, Ava’s mother.

Ava takes center stage much later in the novel, but when she does her story shines just as much as the other women. Each, melding into the others so seamlessly. The novel doesn’t necessarily have a plot, which at times I would normally have a problem with, but with this novel I didn’t. I loved how fluid it felt, even without it. The center plot, or theme really, was love and that was the driving collection that made everything make sense and hold a connection. There were no gaps, or holes in the story. Even as each generation of women took center stage in their own way, Ava was always there, guiding and keeping everything together. For a debut novel, this was an ambitious undertaking– to tell four generations worth of stories based on an emotion almost solely told by a person, somewhat of an outsider at certain points. Walton succeeded wonderfully. I look forward to reading her next work.

What I loved most about this novel was the magic in each woman. Not magic like Harry Potter magic. But magic, like something different we can’t explain. Emilienne had hers, where, in the beginning, the people in town thought she was a witch. Then there was Viviane, who could smell things and give emotions to them. Even silent Henry had his own idiosyncrasies. Plus, there was Ava with her wings. It wasn’t completely reminiscent of Sarah Addison Allen, but somewhat. As I am a huge fan of hers, I instantly became a fan of Walton’s. I enjoyed how there was nothing simple or ordinary in this novel. Even the town was special. It was an unique read I couldn’t put down.

Walton stuck to the theme of love very well, her analysis pretty head on. She didn’t take the pretty route. She didn’t show all the good, happy parts of being in love. Didn’t write about all the bad, either; although she wrote a lot on it, but not everything. I enjoyed her take on love; especially how she used it to fuel her plot. Each character found love and its meaning in different ways; and how it could effect them, too. There was so much beauty in the words and descriptions Walton chose, even when love’s ugliness reared it’s head.

I can’t recommend this book enough. It really is a must read. There is something about it that I think makes it one. Not just the words. The characters, the magic, the unsugar coated realism. It’s all there and more. I was initially giving it four stars, but realized I love it so much more. I’m moving it to five. It’s that good. I am planning on buying a copy for myself. There is something about it that just sucked me in. It wasn’t just those feathers. I hope you pick this one up. It’s worth it. It really is.

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