The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton
Foolish love appears to be a Roux family birthright. And for Ava Lavender, a girl born with the wings of a bird, it is an ominous thing to inherit. In her quest to understand her peculiar disposition and a growing desire to join her peers, Ava ventures into the wider world and her families past.
To many, I was a 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.
This book was stunning. Everything about it was breathtaking: the cover, which just becomes more beautiful the more I look at it, the writing, which is heartbreaking on its own, and the story, which is beyond heartbreaking. I would strongly recommend reading this book and I would recommend reading it without knowing anything about it. Just let the story unfold before you and let yourself be wrapped up in it. You might want to hold on tight to your heart.
I am at a loss of words. I wish I could talk to someone about it who's already read this book - shared heartbreak is only half as bad, is it? But, alas, I'm trying to tell you about this book. You being someone who possibly hasn't read this book yet and whom I want to persuade reading it. Should you belong to that group I implore you to read The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender only knowing that it is, indeed, strange and beautiful. As I've mentioned many times, I like diving into books not knowing anything about them and with this one I feel it is especially important. But if you want to know a little bit more about it I'm going to go into some more detail now.
First of all, I want to address the only point of "criticism" I have concerning this book. It's not really criticism because it is a very personal issue and I don't think it should be changed at all but it did affect me slightly. Frankly, sometimes the story was a little bit slow and felt too ultimate. It felt at times a little bit like someone announcing that they tried doing a handstand once but then they fell on their head and swore never to try something like that again. But instead of simply quickly mentioning this, they talk for 15 minutes about how silly handstands are and how they always secretly wished they could do them. That person can be as eloquent as it gets, it will start dragging sooner or later.
Everything else about this book I loved. I was hooked from the first page, actually I was already hooked from the first passage (the one I typed out above) you could even argue that the cover already had me in a firm grip.
The story Ava tells in the beginning - recounting her family's migration to America, her great-grandmother fading out of sheer sorrow, her grandmother's strange siblings and their terrible fates - was stunning. The book could have ended after that first chapter and I would have been satisfied. I would have loved every word of it. But it continued and the story, or rather stories, continued to unfold and stun me with their strange beauty.
Honestly, as I already said, I lack the words to describe this book properly. What I want to add, though, before I'm going to leave you to your own devices (which will hopefully make you read this book), is that this is the kind of book I already know I'll want to reread sooner rather than later. And I will love it just as much as, if not more than, I did this time. It is a book with thought and so much heart it could have filled Margaux's chest.
I might change my rating once I've let this story sit a little bit - it sometimes happens that I like a story better when time has passed because it sticks with me so much and minor criticism I might have had fades into irrelevance - but for now I'm going to give this 4.5/5 stars. And again: I would strongly recommend reading this book. Especially, if you're into magical realism.
Name: The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender
Author: Leslye Walton
Publisher: Walker Books
Pages: 301 (a couple of pages more, actually, the Prologue had no page numbers)