Book Review: The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender

avalavenderTitle: The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender

Author: Leslye Walton

Genre: Fantasy, YA

Publisher: Candlewick Press

Publication Date: March 2014

Hardback: 301 pages

Stand alone or series: Stand alone

How did I get this book: Bought

 Let’s start with a brief synopsis (taken from Goodreads):

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.

What I thought:

I’m still trying to figure out exactly how I feel about this book. I can’t really explain how reading it was for me, so I’m not sure how this review is going to go down. I apologize if it’s just one long rambling mess. There were parts of this book that I really did enjoy, and others that I wasn’t sure how to feel. The writing is beautiful, and its fairy tale qualities were truly magical. But at the same time, there were several moments when I was wondering what exactly the point was. Sometimes it’s okay for you to read a book like this, but I just didn’t understand some parts of this novel. I suppose, like the title says, this book is quite strange. But it is also very beautiful. And sorrowful.

This book is magical realism at its finest. It states the magic in the story as fact and offers no explanation for how these things happen. Everything is stated matter-of-factly through Ava, our narrator. I loved this, though it was weird at first. The prose is really gorgeous and haunting at the same time. This book is a fairy tale in every sense of the word. It tells the story of three generations of the Lavender family and documents their loves, losses, heartbreak, and deaths. I’ve read a few reviews of people who didn’t enjoy the inclusion of the family history as the title suggests that it is only about Ava. I really liked this part of the novel because it gave a complete backstory to Ava’s life and family. It made it so that all of the characters were completely well-rounded and complete. I will say, however, that it was parts of the backstories that made me question what the point was. I know how wishy-washy I sound right now. I loved these backstories; I didn’t like them. Which is it? I don’t know. I did enjoy getting a fuller history of the Lavender family, but sometimes there were things included that just didn’t add to the story.

I think that a lot of people will really, really love this book. I did enjoy reading it. I know that you might not believe it from what I’ve said so far. But I did. I’m glad I read it. And I think that you should read it, too. I would definitely recommend it to people who like magical realism, fairy tales, and, well, sad stories. Because this novel is sad; like, super sad. Like, shockingly dark, horrifying, and depressing. I think that many readers will find that this novel will strike a chord with them. Others will miss out on the point of the novel.

This review is so hard, because I did appreciate this book. Really. I loved Walton’s writing and the magical realism, as well as the dream-like quality of some of its scenes. The things that I liked about this book, I REALLY liked. I look forward to what comes next from this author. I will definitely read her other books. And I don’t feel as if I wasted my time reading this book. I’m glad I picked it up and that I had the pleasure of reading Walton’s words.

The bottom line:

I think this is one of those “it’s not you, it’s me” times. I think you should read this novel. I am glad that I did. I just didn’t always understand the point of what I was reading.

Rating: 7 – Pretty good

You can find out more about Leslye Walton by following her on Twitter or visiting her website.

Reading next: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins