When I put The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender down, I really had no idea what I had just read! It was certainly strange and beautiful writing. I was intrigued but not overly invested in the story. But the writing, oh the writing!
The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton
Published by Candlewick Press on March 27th 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Magical Realism, YA
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.
My thoughts on The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton:
I feel conflicted! I half loved this one and the other half wanted more story and more focus but mostly I just wanted to know what hell was happening. Now I’ve put the book down and I still don’t really know.
“By this point Viviane Lavender had loved Jack Griffith for twelve years, which was far more than half of her life. If she thought of her love as a commodity and were to, say, eat it, it would fill 4,745 cherry pies. If she were to preserve it, she would need 23,725 glass jars and labels and a basement spanning the length of Pinnacle Lane.
If she were to drink it, she’d drown.”
The story is very whimsical and quirky and if you like this in books then I think you might fall head over heels in love with it. I’m very pragmatic and so some of these elements didn’t sit well with me and I needed explanations. You have to be prepared to just accept a lack of world building around the fantasy elements and accept that things just are as they are.
I also wanted more to happen. The descriptions were fab but the book is heavy on description and low on action.
That’s my downside. On the upside (and it’s a huge upside) I loved the writing. The author has a gorgeous way with words. She can string out words in an original way and they made me smile, wowed me, hurt me and jarred me. There is also quite the mix between poetic expressions followed sharply by images that are as unsentimental as can be. I loved that contrast.
I enjoyed the characters but didn’t feel overly attached to any of them. The main character is Ava and her claim to fame (not that she wants fame/notoriety) is that she was born with wings. Her mother and grandmother get a lot of book time and we only really get to know Ava in the second half of the book. All the women are very individual and have something very peculiar about them but as I read I just accepted them as they were. Which is probably the whole message behind the book anyway.
“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.”
The Transatlantic Book Project!
Overall it’s a book I’m glad I took the time to read. Now let me tell you why I read it. It’s a book I read as part of the Transatlantic Book Project organised by Rachel @ Confessions of a Book Geek and Alicia @ A Kernel of Nonsense. We all take turns reading the book, making notes IN THE book and then posting it on to the next person on the list. I was second to read the book and I loved reading Rachel’s notes and seeing what she underlined. It was so interesting to see what struck Rachel and it felt a little like having a conversation with her about the book. And on occasion I found myself replying to her comments with my own random wonderings. I did find I had stage fright about what to write myself, I felt very self-conscious and thought that everything I wrote sounded childish! But it was a fun experiment and I might even annotate more books in the future as I like the idea of leaving permanent thoughts in the book for some person in the future to find.
|Did I feel it?|
Who should read The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton?
I’d recommend this to you if you love fantasy books that dip into historical fiction, feature original characters and are full of beautiful phrasing. I did want to love it more than I actually did so you should take that into account but it’s well worth the read for the writing alone.
Talk to Trish: Have you read this one? Does it appeal to you? Do you ever makes notes in a book as you read?