Sunday, January 22, 2017

Review: The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

Title: The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender

Author: Leslye Walton

Rating: 4 Stars

Why did I wait so long to read this book? The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender is equal parts amusing and heartbreaking. The first half of the novel follows the tale of Ava's great-grandfather, his journey from France to Manhattan, her grandmother's subsequent trials and tribulations as she loses her three siblings, falls in love three times, and finally relocates to Seattle. Then, the story of her mother, known as the "witch's daughter" whose childhood sweetheart leaves her with twins, the winged girl Ava and her silent brother Henry.

It doesn't seem like much of a tale, but the first-half of the novel, despite its slow start, is captivating in its unfolding of family history, drama, and lore. The Lavender's are a weird bunch, from the start, and with the birth of Ava and Henry, their small family becomes weirder still. But Walton's writing is dream-like, her prose utterly haunting, and I found it impossible to put this book down once I became sucked into it. I wanted each of these three generations of women to find their own happiness and the distinct personalities of each shone through the page.

The secondary characters were no less brilliant, each thoroughly developed and realized, and the magical realism elements were compelling and enchanting; I am sure I have missed the symbolism Walton wants her readers to understand but I loved the fantasy nevertheless. My only qualm with this story is that the last few chapters--beautiful, heart-breaking, lovely--contain some extremely sudden and graphic imagery that I feel may be startling and a trigger to some readers. It's an explicit spoiler, but if you feel as if trigger warnings may apply to you, I want to offer that to readers. Trigger Warning/Spoiler (highlight to view): RAPE/CHILD ABUSE/VIOLENCE

Anyhow, if you have somehow let this novel collect dust on your shelves, as I have, for the past two years, now is a good time to get it out. It's the perfect holiday read, embodying everything I love about family and hope in a package of magical realism. I only regret that Walton is yet to publish her next novel, but I sincerely hope she returns to magical realism--there aren't enough gems in this genre, and especially not enough Young Adult ones.


  1. This does sound like a beautiful read, but sad. I wonder if things ended on a happy note? Wonderful review, Keertana!

  2. I've heard a few things about this one, but not much. It never really appealed to me but I'm happy to see you enjoyed this one. I do need to try more books that follow under magical realism.

  3. I remember seeing this one around and that's true that it looks interesting! I don't have it of a shelve but maybe one day!

  4. I've heard so many great things about this one so I'm glad to hear you enjoyed it too! Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous review! <3

  5. I love this book's cover! I remember being interested in the book before it published, but I never read it. I do love magical realism! However I am definitely a person that avoids stories involving what you made invisible. :/ The book sounds good overall though! Great review, Keertana!

    Have a wonderful week. =)

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

  6. It took me a while to remember this one, but I did enjoy it a lot. I think it may be time for a reread. I just remembered that I also really loved her lyrical writing. Brilly review!

  7. This sounds very appealing. I also have plenty of books collecting dust that I keep meaning to get to. Every once in a while, I find a gem when I dig in!
    Rebecca @ The Portsmouth Review

  8. Keertana this book has certainly be collecting dust on my shelf for the longest time too! If anyone can convince me to pick up a book though it can only be you, and I do love the sound of this beautiful story and Walton's immense writing skills. I was super tempted to check out the spoiler, but I held back (just about!). I look forward to picking this one up soon! Lovely review Keertana!

  9. I'm ashamed to admit I'm pretty sure this has been sitting on my shelf as well. I need to move it up! Beautiful review!

  10. I’m guilty of letting this novel collect dust on my shelve. I’ve been told that Leslye Walton’s writing beautiful, I wonder if her books would be better in audio format. Magical realism is not my favorite genre, so I’m not sure I would pick up this book.

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