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.
The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender was … strange, to say the least. And I do not use the word “strange” as an insult. This novel was peculiar in the most beautiful and disturbing ways. It was eclectic and magical and, despite the rich-writing style, easy to read.
Happiness had a pungent scent, like the sourest lime or lemon. Broken hearts smelled surprisingly sweet. Sadness filled air with a salty, sea-like redolence; death smelled like sadness.
I must admit, at the beginning of this book, I didn’t think it would be one that I would enjoy. Again, it was dense and quite random. Ava Lavender tells us her story from her point-of-view, but she begins her adventure at the very, very beginning. And by that, I mean starting with the life of her grandmother, Emilienne.
Emilienne lived a very sad, tragic life. I will not get into details, but I will say that I admire her depth as a character and how she developed through the length of the novel, along her daughter and Ava’s mother, Viviane. If I exclude the magical realism, it felt as though I was reading the history of a real family who lived through many oddities and misfortunes.
There it was again. Fate. As a child, that word was often my only companion. It whispered to me from dark corners during lonely nights. It was the song of the birds in the spring and the call of the wind through bare branches on a cold winter afternoon. Fate. Both my anguish and my solace. My escort and my cage.
I did originally find it odd to not delve into Ava’s life until around page one-twenty. However, Walton took advantage of this world and these characters and gave them the depth they deserved. And Walton never missed an opportunity to reference back to something that happened before Ava was born, which is something I always admire within writers.
I must take a moment here to applaud Walton as a writer. She created such a layered with world with this wide cast of characters that each had their own depth and personality. As a writer myself, I know that is a difficult task to manage. I have difficulty keeping track of my cast of twelve characters and giving them their own detailed layers. I could not imagine juggling all of these quirky characters and their misshapen pasts, so hats off to Leslye Walton.
Despite Walton being an incredible writer in my eyes, her writing style, like any author, may not be for everyone. This isn’t always an easy book to read in the matter that it does deal with some heavy topics. Walton is blunt with death and despair, and most of it, I didn’t see coming.
“I think death is something like being drugged or having a fever,” I whispered. “Like being a step away from everyone else. A step so large and wide that catching up quickly becomes impossible, and all I can do is watch as everyone I love slowly disappears.”
WELL EXCUSE ME WHILE I DRY MY EYES.
The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender left me in awe, both hopeful and heartbroken. This novel had a way of roping me into its magical, eerie depths, and I thoroughly enjoyed roaming its lands. I don’t think this story or these characters will ever leave my mind, not entirely.
Have any of you here read The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender? If so, what are your thoughts on this wild read? Do you enjoy reading magical realism, or would you rather reach for another genre?
Do let me know, and as always, feel free to leave any other thoughts, comments or questions down below. I always love chatting with you lovelies.