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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 iMagical 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.First-time author Leslye Walton has constructed a layered and unforgettable mythology of what it means to be born with hearts that are tragically, exquisitely human....

Title : The Strange and BeautifulSorrows of Ava Lavender
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780763670344
Format Type : ebook
Number of Pages : 320 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Strange and BeautifulSorrows of Ava Lavender Reviews

  • Emily May
    2019-02-23 00:39

    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.Me immediately after finishing this book:What the hell am I supposed to do now? What do I possibly read after this? How do I REVIEW this? How can everyone else just go on with their lives around me while I'm sat here clutching my kindle and trying to gather the pieces of my broken heart?Me a few hours after finishing this book:This book is easily the best book I have read this year. I'd even go so far as to say it's one of my favourite books, period. And now I somehow have to find the words to explain why.The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender is, as its title would suggest, a strange and beautiful book. It's a story about a family, spanning multiple generations - it's about life, love, desire, obsession and wasted youth... and it's fucking beautiful. There is something so breathtakingly real and honest about this book, even though aspects of the story are fantastical. It's a tale about many people, each crafted with rich personality and an almost painful humanity (even those not quite so human).The writing is so beautiful, but simply so, that I found myself feeling inexplicably emotional at times. The story just carries this mood, an atmosphere, that permeates the entire novel and left me with goosebumps. Walton wields bittersweetness in a way that can make you smile and break your heart in a single sentence. She captures the intense and feverish desires and obsessions of youth and first love/lust - with more than a little perversion at times. There is something so beautifully ugly about life, about love, about realizing you no longer love someone.The Griffith House was like nothing Viviane remembered, reminding her of how fast the world changed and of how insignificant she was in the grand scheme of things. She thought it unfair that her life should be both irrelevant and difficult. One or the other seemed quite enough.Being a relatively short-to-average sized book and having so many characters, you'd think this book would fall short of the mark and fail to develop complex characters. But it doesn't. At all. In fact, the large cast of characters - none of which is wasted or throwaway - made this book absolutely fascinating. I'm not sure I've felt such a strong emotional connection with a book since the weeks immediately following my discovery of Melina Marchetta. Every single character interested me, I didn't relate to them all but I felt like I understood each one of them. And this is what makes so much of the book feel helplessly tragic. People are hurt by other people who I wanted to hate for hurting them... but I couldn't.*And it really is so sad. It's about the foolishly inexplicable things we do, the things left unsaid, the unknowing, the things that could have so easily been different. But I promise that it's not all doom and gloom either. It's a rich, intoxicating whirlwind of emotions. It's exciting and romantic and incredibly funny. I'm not going to say anything else because this review is descending into blabbering, gushing madness and I'm going a little crazy with the BOLD text (hehe). But, what can I say... Love makes us such fools. And I really love this book.*(view spoiler)[I should probably add that this does not include Nathaniel Sorrows. Him I could hate just fine. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

  • karen
    2019-03-13 06:52

    hope is the thing with feathersand maybe it is, to cheerful people like emily dickinson, but this book is not about hope. it is about all of the scars love's victims carry. and there is nothing i do not love about it.this book reminds me of traditional fairytales in their purest forms - before being sanitized or gentled for the presumed fragility of young minds. it positively drips with death and loss: people cutting out their own hearts, turning into birds, people suffering endlessly because of impossible loves.and in the midst of all this, a girl is born with a pair of wings.it is magical realism at the height of its potential. it is like marquez in its chronicling of the relentless suffering of the different generations of a family, and it is esquivel in its food-as-magic:Happy smiles were shared between the bride and groom, but it was the cake their guests remembered - the vanilla custard filling, the buttercream finish, the slight taste of raspberries that had surely been added to the batter. No one brought home any slices of leftover cake to place under their pillow, hoping to dream of their future mate; instead, the guests… ate the whole cake and then had dreams of eating it again. After this wedding unmarried women woke in the night with tears in their eyes, not because they were alone, but because there wasn't any cake left.it is, quite simply, one of the best books i have ever read. and maybe it is just a for-me perfect book - reading the other, less enthusiastic reviews here on goodreads made my heart ache. despite all my readers' advisory training, where we are encouraged to behave as though no opinion is wrong, there is still a part of me that wants to grab people by their lapels and whisper "how could you?? how could you miss what this book is??"people who are disappointed that the title is misleading because it is not only about the sorrows of ava lavender, but of her whole freaking family - i don't even know how to respond to that. who says, "gee, i wish the story hadn't been so rich and full. i wish that it had only been about this one wing'ed girl and not about the snowballing of familial sorrow that culminated in her birth and her own patch of sorrow. i'm just not a big fan of context."i don't even know what to do with that.i can understand the people who were flattened by how sad this book is. this book is YA in the same way that Tender Morsels is YA, which is to say - not your momma's YA. it is dark and violent and features intercourse both consensual and not, there is murder and suicide, ghosts and untouched harpsichords, and there is just so much pain. but the pain and sorrow and darkness is also beautiful and lyrical and magical. and it is walton's delicate language that lifts the story out of its own despair and makes it completely transcend the gloom. it is like watching something beautiful burn, and you have to acknowledge that flames are also beautiful in their own way, even as they destroy.tiny little examples of such:-Her mother's scent was that of fresh-baked bread, tainted by a slightly brackish tone, as if the bread had been salted with tears.and-"Just remember, meu inima, my heart," she would say, "royal blood flows through our veins and from our wounds."and even structurally, there are little surprises to the close reader - moments of mirroring between the thoughts and actions of characters, careful foreshadowing, unexpected word choices. this book is a true reader's delight.i absolutely adored it, and i am truly going to miss these characters.i will leave you with this excerpt, because it seems fitting."It's… dangerous for someone like me to be out in the open."As if in response, my wings started to flutter underneath their shroud. I gave the cloak a good yank."Someone like you? Someone different, you mean?"I shrugged. "Yes," I answered quietly, suddenly shy."So, is it dangerous for us or for you?""What do you mean?""I mean, are you the threat, or are we?""You are! Well, They are." I motioned to the cluster of teenagers. Of course it was them.Rowe peered at me thoughtfully. "Funny. I suspect they might say otherwise." He stood."And that might just be the root of the problem: we're all afraid of each other, wings or no wings."************************************************************************************************i am only fifty pages in, but i'm calling it - this is an absolute MUST READ!go to netgalley. now.

  • Regan
    2019-03-12 23:30

    OH MY GOD! this tale was not just made it was threaded and crafted. I feel like it has burrowed inside of me.

  • Samantha
    2019-02-23 01:33

    Reading this book felt like wrapping myself in a warm blanket on a misty, autumn day. The writing was beautiful. The characters were magical. The entire book felt like something you could sink into. This has been added to my favorites shelf, and I'm already looking forward to re-reading it in the future.

  • Kai
    2019-03-25 06:40

    “Love, as most know, follows its own timeline. Disregarding our intentions or well rehearsed plans.”Not a monster, not an angel, Ava Lavender is a winged girl, born into a family where love and tragedy are always found knocking on their door.I am still unsure what to think of this novel. The title pretty much explains it all: It's strange and it's beautiful. But it's also heartbreaking, tragic, dark and most of all shocking. Not that you weren't warned. From page One the tension started to grow and I knew something terrible was going to happen. But I still had hope. Maybe because no other GR friend of mine expressed the shock that I felt in his or her reviews. Or maybe I just read this wrong. But I'm sure I didn't. Which leads me to mention this (trigger-) warning: If you don't want spoilers, stop reading now. This novel features one violent rape-scene and I was definitely not prepared to read it.Apart from that, I really loved this book. It portrays strong and diverse women, with character-depth and impressive backgrounds. It's unpredictable and unique in many ways. And it really reminded me of the film Amélie.Can't wait to read Leslye Waltons new project, whatever it's going to be.Find more of my books on Instagram

  • LolaReviewer
    2019-03-06 02:38

    This book was original, well-written and had some memorable characters but there were unfortunately some flaws in my opinion.Ava Lavender, a beautiful girl possessing wings and main character, doesn’t even really appear in the plot before its 50% (on average.) That is one of the small problems I had with this book since I got tired of hearing about Ava’s ancestors and mother’ stories. It was interesting, captivating and intriguing at first but then it felt too much and I wanted more. Wanted Ava.Second, in this book there are many tragedies which I thought brought a unique atmosphere to the story and made some characters and situations feel even more realistic, which is a funny thing to say since The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender is a magical realism themed book and there are many oh so many things in this book that could never oh so never happen in reality.Another little thing that made me lower my rating was the fact that I was waiting for a tragically, beautiful, angsty and swoon-worthy love story when what I got was in fact a predictable, ordinary, could-happen-to-everyone love story for Ava, her mother and her ancestors’ characters since we’re at it.The writing is very pretty and impressive I shall say. I found the dialogs perfect and, even though there weren’t many, I wouldn’t change a thing in there.There are many characters in this story that you'll love and then hate or that you’ll HATE and then love. Some can disappoint you, when others can surprise the hell out of you. You’re in it for a treat, if that’s what you’re looking for. Personally, there were some characters I wished didn’t change when that’s what they did and there were others I wished didn’t listen to their head but their heart instead and vice versa.I can see why so many people loved this book. It’s (the plot) like a breath of fresh air on a hot summer day; riveting.You also need to know that the pacing is slow and many descriptions are present (due, we can say, the low amount of dialogs.) The final problem I had regarding this book is that, even though the story is mainly set in the 50s, I didn’t exactly feel it as I may have been supposed to. I didn’t quite feel the historical part of this novel and even often forgot about it. The way they talked sometimes gave clues, but other times it didn’t.Finally, this IS a book I think many people would like because, like I said, it’s refreshing in a way and beautifully written which, of course, is always a good thing. If you like magical realism themed books, I would also recommend The Night Circus which I loved.(view spoiler)[ (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

  • Ariel
    2019-03-20 04:49

    It was an interesting fairy tale but it really didn't sweep me away. It felt meandering - with characters and plot ideas that could have been exciting but for me fell flat and aimless. This is marked very often as Magical Realism, which is why I decided to read it for my Magical Realism course, but I think it doesn't actually work as Magical Realism. Instead I would call it a fairy tale, simply because (at least in my explorations) Magical Realism is magic that goes unquestioned in its society but in this story it does mark people as different and other.

  • Navessa
    2019-03-04 07:50

    TRIGGER WARNING: THOSE SENSITIVE TO DEPICTIONS OF RAPE MAY WANT TO SKIP THIS BOOK......is what I wish someone else had put at the top of their review so I could have fucking saved myself from running headfirst into that scene. The moral of this book: everything of beauty in this world will eventually be destroyed by those who covet it.

  • Anne
    2019-03-12 00:35

    REREAD : 4TH OF MARCH 2016.RATING AFTER REREAD: COMPLETE 5 GLORIOUS STARS.REREAD IN 7 HOURS. IT'S NO JOKING STUFF.HOW DO I FEEL? GUTTED. EVISCERATED. DEMOLISHED. DESTRUCTION HAS NEVER FELT BETTER.I have nothing to add to my previous review except: DAMN YOU YOU FOUL EXCUSE OF A MAN. YES YOU.First read: 24th December 20154.5/5 STARSI AM AWASH WITH FEELS. A GREAT VARIETY OF THEM.Do I attempt purging my feels by screaming at the top my lungs?Or JUMP AROUND like the world is alight in sparkling colors?Or UGLY CRY?Or BECOME a human dynamite?Or REVEL in my TOP OF THE WORLD FEELINGDO I WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT? GOD YES.I kid you not, when I say that halfway through this book I had to stop and take a moment-more like several moments- to just hug it, tightly. So tightly. I think I broke the poor baby's spine. I don't know why I'm so emotional. It's not me, it's the Christmas season that has turned me mushy. Damn YOU filthy Christmas air. Damn you Jack Griffith. Damn you Levi Blythe. Damn you John. Triple DAMN YOU Nathaniel. Damn ALL OF YOU. No not YOU I mean them.STORY LINEFifteen year old Ava Wilhelmina Lavender is something of an aberration. She was born into the world bearing wings. A reality as strange and queer as the family she was born into: A family that has only known sorrow to go hand in hand with love. A family that has known loss and heartbreak, and let it define their lives by regarding their misfortunes as fate - and a burden to be passed down from generation to generation like a family heirloom. The following is the story of my young life as I remember it. It is the truth as I know it. Of the stories and the myths that surrounded my family and my life — some of them thoughtfully scattered by you perhaps — let it be said that, in the end, I found all of them to be strangely, even beautifully, true. Everything about this story was peculiar.From the plot and characters right down to the narrative style. A peculiar story set in an as-realistic-as-could-be world with fantastical characters trying to make their way in it-and of course, living in such a world can only emphasize how strange these characters were. The narrative style is one I can only describe as liberal, and I freaking loved it. It kept bouncing back and forth between first and third person narrative. Half the time, I wasn't even paying attention to who was narrating. Half the time I didn't care. I was that engrossed in it all.Before I go on, I just want to say a little something about the pacing. You asked for a fast pace? Well the words "Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it" come to mind. The pace was FAST.There were times when I felt like thisAnd other times I felt like how I imagine crashing into the whomping willow and getting repeatedly whacked by it would feel.I just didn't even have enough time sometimes to settle down and process some things before I got towel-flogged with more information.I like to think of this story as a testament to love, and everything it is, everything it brings: Joy and happiness, hope, heartbreak, peace, desire, longing-But more than that, she learned how to worry. She, who’d always thought love’s only companion was sorrow, learned that worry came hand in hand with love. I won't lie, I felt like some parts of this book were a bit outlandish, and some exaggerative, but it didn't stop them from being so affective. SO FREAKING CRUEL ON MY EMOTIONS. I want to ask the author how she could do such a thing to readers. How and why would you do such things to people?What baffled me most, were the characters. Their capacity to love and love foolishly was as heartwarming as it wasappalling.And the way they fell in and out of it, like it was the easiest thing to do in the world, like moving from one used tissue or handkerchief to another, though alarming it was, is not something I can attack with words. Because that isn't the whole truth of it. Their love wasn't that cavalier or without depth. They loved greatly, fiercely, wholly; they loved unarmored. And they hurt the same way, unarmored, and then with armor. The way they hurt and loved and hurt and loved so rhythmically, you'd think brokenness was some kind of art. Sometimes I felt like this story was glorifying love, and other times I felt like it was underrating and upbraiding it. I don't know how it could do that, but it did. Everything was so complex. I'm sorry. Am I confusing you? I'm pretty confused myself. I write this review hoping to organize my thoughts, hoping it would serve as an outlet for my very jumbled up and ruffled emotions. Reviewing can be so cathartic at times.THE PERSON OF AVA: A lot of pages were given to the history of Ava's progenitors, her ancestry and her heritage. And I have to say, I was so impressed by how the author achieved such heavy download of information without it turning boring and dumpy. The details are, I think, needed for us to understand where Ava's coming from, where she's headed-and maybe even why she had to end up the way she did. But it's because of that same reason I failed to give this a full five star rating. I needed to read more from Avawithout everyone else crowding into her space. I loved Ava's voice so much. Though sheltered and forever wondering about her place in the world, Ava's voice sounded hopeful and brave. Her belief that she was fated to a sorrowful existence was so heartbreaking.There it was again. Fate. **SNIFFS ** I JUST WANT TO HUG SOMETHING. And right now I couldn't care less If it were a tree.That ending. Oh my word. I want to hate it, but then I think: How many stories end with butterflies and cuddles in real life? Aren't books supposed to be modeled after life, this wandering and yearning existence we have been condemned to? How many make it out of that rabbit hole and find themselves gifted with the sun and beauty, and meaning? I'm struggling with the ending of this book, with it's meaning. But regardless of the struggle, I love it for it's realism. And besides, sometimes it's all about the journey. The journey matters: The road itself matters and not where it leads. I think that's the case with this book. At least, for me.Another reason I didn't 5-star this was because of the magic. I seriously and honestly couldn't understand it's essence.I saw it's manifestations, but the principle of it eluded me.This book got me wondering about how a person can leave someone they claim to love and then slime their way back to them after years, expecting to continue from where they left off, like time never passed at all, like the person they left behind is a log of wood. Life is a moving scene, yes, but it's not one you can play, fast-forward, or rewind. How can you come back expecting something, expecting anything at all. Like Really?You want her back? YOU FREAKING EARN HER! **takes a deep breath** I am calm. I am calm. The characters annoyed me so much, they were so human, complete with damning flaws, treacherous, avaricious hearts, and steadfast wills that were in an endless war with all the parts of them that screamed practicality. I want to get on my ladder, and climb up to the rooftop and scream out to the world: I LOVE THIS BOOK! I'M IN LOVE WITH THIS BOOK. AND I LOVE HOW IT MADE ME FEEL.If you read through the whole review, I thank you. Now this is the part where I close up and go look for a hole to crawl into and die. Love freaking hurts#FEELSPLOSION IS REAL

  • Hailey (HaileyinBookland)
    2019-03-13 01:44

    SPOILER FREE REVIEW: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9Hs4...Wow. What a beautiful fairytale Leslye Walton crafts. Read this book. It will stay with you forever.What a way to start off the year!I will admit, the first few chapters I wasn't really feeling it so much. I wasn't hating it by any means, the writing is much too beautiful to hate, but I found it a bit tedious. However, after that I really got absorbed into the story. The way this story is told really allows you to familiarize yourself with the characters and their situation. It is Ava Lavender, the protagonist, telling the story starting with her great grandmother, then her grandmother, then her mother, and finally her. I loved the fact that you got glimpses into the lives (love lives mostly) of her family. It just made the story seem so much more real. I loved the whimsicalness of the character's and the situations they are in. I feel like this is a modern day fairytale. It was just SO fantastic. I really can't explain why I loved this book so much because it is beyond words... just read it.

  • emma
    2019-03-03 23:43

    This book...is so weird.I don’t know what I expected. I’ve had this book on to-read and to-buy lists intermittently for about three years, without ever once building a concept of what it was about beyond “girl with wings.”I guess I definitively didn’t expect “girl with wings in historical fiction narrative featuring brutal violence, tragic discussion of love, horrifying moments, overwrought symbols, and treacly writing.”But that particular oddness salad is what I got.All the bits I wanted more of in this were not what I got. I liked the historical Paris setting. I liked the bakery. This kind of felt more like a series of vignettes taking place in the same world rather than one cohesive narrative. Add that to the poorly defined magical realism and it was all rather confusing.All the characters were more ideas than people and so was the plot or lack thereof and there were just these moments of shocking horror and violence and there’s one in particular that I’m thinking of and the way love was depicted was just so unsettling and...I don’t know.A book with a title and a cover like this should have been better.Bottom line: I have no insight into this. But I didn’t like it very much.

  • Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
    2019-03-04 05:34

    The writing in this book is absolutely amazing. It's one of those books that once you start reading it you just feel like the book opens up and you step into it. I honestly could smell the bread baking and my mouth watered when the story was in the bakery area. It reminded me of a previous favorite author of mine before she turned on readers. I missed this kind of magical story.It's the story of an entire family. I think some people have gone into this book expecting a book about the "girl born with wings" and it is that somewhat. The whole story does not center on Ava Lavender. I think this gives the reader a chance to really know these wonderful characters. Characters that are afraid to love because of previous hurts and heartaches, characters that come to life under Leslye Walton's talented hand.

  • Cait (Paper Fury)
    2019-03-18 04:39

    Yes, I've given this a low star-rating. Yes, I'm also horrified. Yes, I'm also mostly alone in my feelings of this book (it has a 4.18 average star rating on Goodreads!). And no, I will not being saying the title five times fast while I turn in a circle and pat my head. (But you can try it if you like.) The ugly truth is: this book just didn't click with me. And I wanted to like it! I really, really did!I'm utterly in love with the cover and the title.(Ava Lavender?! Isn't that just the most gorgeous name ever?!) It comes out in late March, but I read it on the 3rd of February because I was so excited for it. Writing?Personally, I felt it was written like a very beautiful text book. History. There's hardly any scenes, hardly any dialogue. The first 120 pages are before Ava is even born! That's nearly HALF the book. It's not just about Ava Lavender (and this is where I get annoyed at the blurb, because it really tells you nothing about the book): it's about Ava's whole family history. Which is...interesting. But mildly boring. I like scenes and dialogue and character-driven plots. This didn't have any of that. It's all very tragic and beautiful though.I love the flow of the prose. It feels lyrical, definitely. The description really pops. They don't just say "cake" they say "butterscotch brownies". Every word feels well thought-out. I was just so bored while I was appreciating the gorgeousness.The names are fabulous!Some authors are just blessed with the ability to give the best names. Not only do we have Ava Lavender, we have Laura Lovelorn, Cardigan Cooper, Marigold Pie, Beauregard Roux, Viviane Lavender (that's Ava's mother) and Emilienne Roux. Lovelovelove. Characters?Ah, this is kind of hard to sum up. There's a lot of them? Many die in the first chapter? About 1/3 is about Ava? I did like Ava's wings, though. I like it how the book had the flair of the unexpected and unnatural. Ava's twin, Henry, I suspect has a form of autism. And Ava, of course, has wings. And then an aunt turned into a canary! It's...that sort of book. Which I love! It was just the writing style of telling-telling-telling history event after event...that drove me to look something like Maximus from Tangled.I really wanted to like this book. But to be strictly honest with you, it wasn't for me. That doesn't mean you won't like it! (Everyone else did, remember?) So off you pop. Go read it and tell me YOUR thoughts!

  • Aj the Ravenous Reader
    2019-03-19 05:58

    No doubt, one of the strangest stories I’ve ever read but true its title, The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender is very beautifully written though also truly very sorrowfully. It’s a mesmerizing tale that riveted me to every word, to the individual stories of the three women of the Lavender lineage that often twisted my heart in pain or sadness but sometimes also cracked my face in unexpected humor. Indeed, love made the characters in the story such fools but it’s also the same thing that moved them to act courageously and heroically. It’s what made some of them able to fly. ;) The reason for my four stars which I’ll hide in spoiler tags: (Please do not click if you haven’t read the book).(view spoiler)[ I super duper hate the irony! I found it mega too unfair that Henry whose special gift of prophesy wasn’t able to do anything for her sister. I mean what’s the use of all his restless blabber when during the time it’s supposed to be useful, it was already too late when his words were finally deciphered. *sighs* I know, I know. The story is supposed to be half-tragic but it’s still too unfair even with the hopeful ending. Some other bad thing could have happened to Ava but just not that. Ugh! Just ugh! *sighs*(hide spoiler)]

  • Lotte
    2019-03-09 02:47

    What a wonderful little story. Ava Lavender, you have rightfully earned your place on my favorites shelf!This was a beautiful family saga about three generations of women. We not only get to know Ava’s story, but also her grandmother’s and mother’s; we follow them from France, to New York, to Seattle and to the whimsical street that is Pinnacle Lane. All the women's stories are stories of foolish love and its consequences. All are beautiful and touched me in different ways. Ava Lavender is a perfect example of why I love magical realism and why we should all read more of it. I love how while this is still a story about human emotions and about what it means to be human, it has so many magical elements. From odd little things (a woman slowly becoming translucent out of sorrow before disappearing completely) to the magical and lyrical language and even down to the magical names of the characters. Small magical oddities are everywhere in this book and that's what makes it so special.This was Leslye Walton's debut novel, but I will definitely keep my eyes peeled for whatever she publishes next.

  • Emer
    2019-03-12 02:30

    SECOND READ: May 2017Why is it that we fall in love with some books? And others we don't? I can never fully explain those feelings when I love a book. I can never find the right words to express all that is contained within my heart. Within my soul. “If my mother kept a list of the reasons she confined me to the house on the hill, she’d have a length of paper that could stretch all the way down Pinnacle Lane and trail into the waters of the Puget Sound...To put it simply, my mother worried. She worried about our neighbours’ reactions. Would they break me with their disparaging glances, their cruel intolerance? She worried I was just like every other teenage girl, all tender heart and fragile ego. She worried I was more myth and figment than flesh and blood... She worried she couldn’t protect me from all of the things that had hurt her: loss and fear, pain and love.Most especially from love.”I read The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender for the first time in January 2016. And I utterly loved it. It moved me so completely. Stirred something deep within me and made me feel so much more than I could ever hope to feel from simple words on a page. So recently when I had to nominate a choice of book for my Goodreads Book Group to read it was a given that I would have to recommend this. So when everyone voted to read my choice I was very excited... at first...But then... The dawn of fear. What if the book wasn't as good as I remembered? What if was too peculiar? Too dark? Too strange? Not adventurous enough! Not exciting! Confusing... I had all of these conflicting feelings. These doubts. And sadly I doubted my heart. I doubted my love."Love makes us such fools"So then I reread my Ava Lavender. And my feelings... I am both happy and relieved to say they are unchanged. In fact I love it even more. My original review which follows will further illustrate that love. As for my book group and what they make of the book? Well if it isn't for them I know it will break my heart in some little way. And not because I think I chose the wrong book. But because I wish that everyone could feel about this book the way I do. I hope there's a book out there for each person that makes your soul sing like this does for me. All the better if it is Ava Lavender, but if it isn't then that's okay too. Just as long as something touches you in the same way this has irrevocably touched my heart.five stars--------ORIGINAL REVIEW: January 2016How do I even begin to write a review for this book???????????? "Love makes us fools" This book has just come along, stolen my heart and smashed it to smithereens…and I would gladly let it smash my heart for all eternity… it is just the most beautiful, most breath-taking, most peculiar and most lovingly crafted novel I have read in recent times. I am utterly taken with it.Many thanks to my GR friendOliviawho read this as a buddy read with meSo what is ‘The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender’ about ….It is about a girl born with beautiful wings, about her family, about her mother, her grandmother…about their lives…about their abilities to love with all their hearts….about the sorrows that are seemingly inextricably linked with their loves….and it is utterly enchanting.From the prologue: "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." On the night of Ava Lavender’s birth the birds acted strangely and feathers fell from the sky in the room where her mother was in labour. When she was born she was cocooned in a pair of speckled wings.Chapter one starts with a journey back through Ava’s family tree and focuses on the life of Ava’s maternal grandmother Emilienne Roux. She was the eldest of four children, three girls and one boy.The language is incredibly descriptive and very evocative; it makes it very easy to transport yourself within your mind’s eye to the scenes of the novel. This is a constant recurring trait of the book…the author is extremely skilled in her use of imagery and the pages of this story really do come to life as you read.You have to take leaps of faith when reading this book. If you can’t believe that a person could turn into a tiny little bird because of the effects of love…then this book isn’t for you. This book is fantastical in its nature and requires you to open your heart, open your mind and accept that which we cannot understand. (view spoiler)[ So when Pierette the youngest Roux child fell in love with a much older gentleman who had a penchant for bird watching, why wouldn’t she turn into a yellow canary? This is the first instance of birds in the family tree and there are many more feathery incidents scattered throughout the novel.(hide spoiler)]We quickly learn that Emilienne opened up her heart three times to love before her 19th birthday and all three loves ended disconsolately with the final love utterly breaking Emilienne’s heart. ‘Love can make us such fools’ she would say. Tragedy followed these heartbreaks and this tragedy followed Emilienne all her life and filtered into the life of her daughter Viviane, on whom the focus of the book then falls. (view spoiler)[ One of my favourite lines from the book described Emilienne’s emotions as she entered into a loveless marriage with her husband… “Emilienne silently promised she’d be good to her husband, as long as he didn’t ask for heart. She no longer had one to give”.(hide spoiler)]The story then follows Viviane’s childhood and her path into adulthood…it shows her fierceness at staying true to her love. Viviane’s story is probably my favourite part of the book. She is a wonderfully complicated character, at times stubborn but always true to herself. Her blinding capacity for love in the face of seeming hopelessness is something to behold. And when she becomes a mother she learns more about herself and what true love truly means… She learned how to worry. She, who’d always thought love’s only companion was sorrow, learned that worry came hand in hand with love. When Ava is born she becomes the book’s featured character. However all three of these women constantly play a role in each other’s lives; they live in the same house and therefore their stories don’t ever cease to be told. We see Ava grow from a young girl and blossom into a person who wants to be seen for more than her wings….she wants to love. “I’ve been told things happen as they should: My grandmother fell in love three times before her nineteenth birthday. My mother found love with the neighbour boy when she was six. And I, I was born with wings, a misfit who didn’t dare to expect something as grandiose as love. It’s our fate, our destiny, that determines such things, isn’t it?” The story of Ava Lavender really is the story of the hearts of these women, of Emilienne, of Viviane and of Ava. Each story is beautiful, filled with fierce love and deep sorrows with this constant magical element; there is almost a kind of symmetry between their lives and there is an ethereal majesty to every chapter of this book. I found myself getting completely lost in the language. Time stood still as I read this book.There is a constant sense of foreboding woven throughout the book. I could feel the book build and build to a soaring climax; there were these messages and clues given throughout the story yet these all seemed nonsensical at the time but made this an absolute page turner. And as the book’s climax was reached I found my heart becoming more and more filled; I was so invested in the storyline and in what happened to these characters that I was almost nervous for the ending to come… I’m really not explaining this well at all but this book just touched my soul. I felt these women’s feelings and their capacity to love unconditionally. I lived their pain. I suffered their heartbreaks with them. I was never once frustrated by a character or plot development. No this was a beautiful work of what happens to those who are forever ruled by their hearts and have to live with the consequences of the sometimes ill-advised choices that our hearts make.(view spoiler)[ “Viviane stole a glance at Gabe, whose own gaze was lost in the fire’s flames. It wasn’t that she didn’t think Gabe was handsome. She did. Sometimes she’d catch herself studying him – the ease in his grasp as he reached for a bowl from the cupboard or the movement of the muscles in his forearms as he sanded the arched leg of a rocking chair – and she’d imagine how his hands would feel on her skin, the strength behind them as he lifted her hips to his. But before she got too far lost in her reverie, she’d remember Jack and the world would crash to the ground once again”(hide spoiler)]And even though each character seemed to have been touched by a sadness of some sort it never once felt like too much. Yes I cried, I wept is probably a more accurate description. However these ebbs of sorrow were written with such loving care that instead of feeling an all-encompassing sadness I just found myself taking long pauses, letting everything I had just read sink in…I basically just felt over whelmed by the beauty of the story and ultimately I felt strangely uplifted. This story reminded me of a traditional fairy tale: otherworldly with a dark undertone. Leslye Walton is my new hero. What a magnificent author she is; so gifted with her use of words, her ability to set a scene, to write such gorgeously multi-layered characters…even each minor character was gloriously detailed. I loved everything about this book including the gorgeous cover ….It is beautifully simple and I loved the gilded effect along feather tips. It just made this cover shimmer when it caught the light and added to the book’s mystique.Oh please read this bookJust read this book, you really owe it to yourselfIt is just too beautiful not toI do apologise for my rambling nonsensical review…my head is just in a spin after this book…my heart is heavy from all the feelsI love this book. Love it, love it, love it!Four and a half soaring stars “just because love don’t look the way you think it should don’t mean you don’t have it”

  • Steph Sinclair
    2019-03-19 02:54

    "Love makes us such fools."Ava Lavender’s family has a history of tragic love stories. Her great-grandmother, Maman; grandmother, Emilienne; and mother, Viviane’s stories are all told through this generational saga exploring themes of love and love lost.And then there is Ava, the girl born with wings, where the story truly takes shape. The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender is magical realism at its best.“Older” Ava, our narrator, opens with a powerful prologue that instantly hooked me and set the perfect tone for the novel. She navigates through her family’s history—along with her own—with a lyrical prose that maintains a whimsical and traditional fairy tale feel despite the sorrowful themes. She tells multiple stories of not only her family, but of others who indirectly crossed paths with the women of the Roux/Lavender family, adding to the surreal experience. There are disappearing people, ghosts, birds, and a subtle magical thread weaving it all together that never feels logical nor out of place. There are times where I wasn’t sure if what Ava was telling me were true or fabrication, but it held an addictive quality that urged to me continue turning page after page late into the night.The theme of love was an interesting one because while it does include stories of men and women, Walton, focuses primarily on the women of the Roux/Lavender family and the long term effects their failed relationships and mistreatment of men had on them. I’m not entirely sure if this was intentional or not, but my mind couldn’t ignore the common situations many women in real life go through depicted in the novel: loveless marriage, single parenting, sexual abuse, etc. For each of the women, naïveté is both their charm and curse. It’s their hope, willingness to give their hearts freely and complete trust that leads to their heartbreak. Ava is different from the other women since she appears to be more cautious due to her sheltered upbringing, however, even that ultimately leads to her downfall.The villain felt both literal and metaphorical for me as a reader and where I feel the novel shines the brightest. There is a physical antagonist in the form of an evangelical stalker obsessed with Ava and her wings. But on a deeper level the villain also manifests as the women’s own sorrows and their inability to heal and move on from the past situations that led to so much pain. It leaves them broken, isolated from the community and guarded even from each other. It isn’t until “Younger” Ava’s tragedy that we start to really see a change in that aspect.If I have one form of criticism it’s that I was hoping to find out more about “Older” Ava. Much of the novel involves relating “Younger” Ava’s family history all the way until after the climax, but we never really have a glimpse into what becomes of “Older” Ava. The prologue asks the question of where she came from she is since she’s born with wings and I was searching desperately for that answer, but it never came. Or at least in the way that I thought it would. But that’s just part of the novel’s charm—its answers always slightly out of reach, constantly maintaining the air of mystery. Perhaps there wasn’t an answer to actually give or it was just another metaphor for the family’s struggles. Or maybe what I really need to do is re-read the book because clearly Walton’s novel is not yet done with me.Overall, I’m both impressed and dazzled by Leslye Walton’s debut. The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender is a novel that has so many layers that it demands your attention. Written with the finesse of a seasoned writer, it’s stunning, magical, strange and, of course, very beautiful. Highly recommended.===ARC was received from the publisher via YA Books Central.This review first appeared on Tor.comFor more reviews and other fantastical things, check out Cuddlebuggery Book Blog.

  • Arah-Lynda
    2019-03-10 01:42

    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.Magical realism and I do not always get along.  More often than not it leaves me untouched or I shy away from it all together.  But for every rule there is an exception and this book, like fresh baked bread, still warm from the oven, is impossible to resist.It is so beautiful, soulful and tender, yet it is filled to the brim with death and sorrow.  It is a story about people who cut out their hearts for love, a woman who becomes a canary and a handsome man with his face blown off.  And it is a story about a girl  who is born with wings.  Her name is Ava and she has a twin brother, Henry, who never speaks, at least not for years and when he finally does it is with a mishmash of words and languages that do not make sense to anyone, except perhaps Henry.  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 birds in 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.  In order to best understand the plight of Ava Lavender, we need to go back, way back, two or three generations, and meet the family Roux.  The story centres on the lives of three women, Emilienne, Vivianne and Ava.  They live in Seattle in a house that stands alone on a hill on Pinnacle Lane.  It is the color of faded periwinkles, with a white wraparound porch and an onion-domed turret with a widow’s walk right up there on top.It is not a happy go lucky story.  It is at turns dark and violent, with murder and suicide, amid the wreckage of broken hearts. Readers should be warned that there is at least one scene in here that is so dark and violent, in such an unexpected way, that it fare caught my breath and held it hostage for a soul shaking moment or two. Still the prose is delicate and lustrous and lands feather light on all the right notes.I need to thank karen brissette, who once again has lead me to an unexpected and wonderfully, delectable book.  You should all read her review, it’s brilliant.And remember:  Just because love don’t look the way you think it should, don’t mean you don’t have it.4.5 of loves long lost stars

  • Maureen
    2019-02-21 23:38

    This book was beautiful, sad, whimsical, lovely, everything. It took a little bit for me to get into it but once I was in I was hooked. It's a lot different than what I was expecting and I'm so glad it was. BEAUTIFUL BOOK.

  • sana°¤°
    2019-02-26 05:29

    3 1/2 stars.Wow, what a strange and wonderful book, which I was hoping to love. It's not a bad book, but there were lots of things that I didn't like. ◆About 150 pages in the book is about tragic love stories about Ava's ancestors. ◆It was extremely confusing towards the beginning.◆I had a hard time remembering who was which character because of the names. The names were beautiful, but I found myself confused as to who the characters were. ◆There was not much dialogue. ◆Still wondering what the plot is.◆(view spoiler)[EXTREMELY angry at that unexpected rape scene. Like it was disturbing and gross and sad and tragic. (hide spoiler)]◆I'm still confused about that ending, but I have my theories about what happened. ◆The story wasn't even focused on Ava and I wanted to learn more about her, not her ancestors. Things I liked:◆Um GABE◆HENRY◆AVA◆The ending.~~~BR with: Gibbous child.What did I just read? Towards the beginning it was all chill and then what the actual fuck happened at the end. AND:TRIGGER WARNING: (view spoiler)[RAPE (hide spoiler)]RTC because like, I need to process what I've read and I'm like still try to figure out what fucking happened at the end. ⊙※⊙60 pages in and:○Confusing as fuck.○Still don't know any of the names.○Why is this so emo and depressing???○Why such tragic love stories?○Death. So much death. ○Just...extremely strange stuff going on.

  • Maxwell
    2019-03-16 04:58

    3.5 starsLeslye Walton clearly knows how to write. It's whimsical and surreal and stunningly beautiful. If you like the film Big Fish, then I think you'll enjoy this story. It's about a girl who is perfectly normal, minus the fact that she was born with a pair of wings. And it's about her family's history, as she traces the lovelorn experiences of that family's matriarchs. At times I was completely captivated by her ability to create such a unique and fantastical story. At others I felt like the pacing was moving along so quickly I couldn't absorb everything being told. There is a lot of background information given to you on Ava, her mother, and grandmother. And while the story is by no means action-packed, it's engaging and sharply paced. That left me struggling to really stay grounded, however, in the overall storyline. The latter half of the story lost me a bit with some additional storylines being thrown in, but the writing was always on point.It's a quick, refreshingly original, and stunning debut novel. But the theme of unrequited love and disappointment was one I had seen too many times before. I can't really say I've read anything like it, though, which is possibly it's best feature and redeeming quality.

  • Chantal(Every Word A Doorway)
    2019-03-12 02:35

    “And that might just be the root of the problem: we're all afraid of each other, wings or no wings.”The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender is the sort of book that is difficult to describe. I can give you a list of adjectives: strange, beautiful, odd, whimsical, magical, different, unique, tragic, hopeful, melancholy…The book is all those things and so much more. It’s a novel you have to experience for yourself in order to understand its magic.It’s about grief and loss, desire and hope. But most of all it’s a story about love; all kinds of love, familial and romantic, platonic and unrequited. “Just because love don't look the way you think it should, don't mean you don't have it.”Ultimately, it’s a story about life itself. Despite all its magical realism elements the author somehow manages to make events appear more real than most contemporaries do. Everything is honest and raw, yet the author’s phenomenal writing style makes them appear subtle instead of in-your-face. This book impressed me, to say the least. The novel is not – as the title suggests – a story solely about Ava Lavender, but her entire family, particularly the women. It spans multiple generations and thus comes across both as a historical fiction and a contemporary novel. I personally loved this about the book, the fact that we get different perspectives from different women who have all gone through their own traumatic events that have shaped their worldview. The book is written in first person but most of the time you actually feel like it’s third person as we experience events through these multiple POVs. This makes the story feel more unique and you will come away thinking “I’ve never read anything like this before”.What I probably loved most about the book was the writing style. It was breathtaking. Beautiful without being overly flowery, on the contrary, it was actually quite simple which made the whole story that much more effective. Leslye Walton is able to create an atmosphere that makes you feel like you are there, experiencing things with the characters. The way the author seamlessly interwove the magical realism elements was masterful and added to the story without distracting from what was actually important. It never felt contrived or unnecessary, instead the whole book felt natural, easy.The characters were all complex: well-drawn, realistic, jaded. The things that happened to them did not leave them unscathed. They are far from perfect yet still likeable. The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender is a novel driven by characters and atmosphere, not plot. If you’re searching for something action-packed and exciting this book is not it. But it will give you much in return if you invest the time. It’s a quiet novel and it will make you ponder while simultaneously shocking you with the way it describes traumatic events with such simplicity. Don’t be fooled by the premise: if you’re expecting a light-hearted contemporary you will not find it here. This novel is sad, it is tragic, it unflinchingly portrays the ugly and despicable aspects of life and people. It is at times uncomfortable. To my mother, I was everything. To my father, nothing at all. To my grandmother, I was a daily reminder of loves long lost.It reads a lot like a fairy tale, but the original tales, not the watered-down Disney versions.Now, you are probably all (understandably) confused by my rating. Why only four stars? I have to give a disclaimer here: I read this book during two of what were probably the most uncomfortable weeks of my life. Of course, I try to always be as objective as possible, but we all know that reading entails a certain amount of subjectivity and if you’re having a bad day that will affect the way you are viewing a book. Having said that, I was just never fully immersed in the story. I felt a certain detachment from characters and plot. Part of that I think, was the fact that many characters were established in a relatively short amount of time and so, although they were all complex and realistic, I could never fully grasp them. They felt like real people, but not like people I knew. Thus I sometimes didn’t care as much about them as I would have liked.However, this book is still excellent and I can only highly recommend it. It’s a truly strange and beautiful novel and I think many will find things to love.

  • Deborah Obida
    2019-03-07 04:50

    Buddy reading withSara my January tbr twin, also my first buddy read of the year.I didn't like it as much as I thought I would, I have to admit I was disappointed. Its just an average read to me. This is my first magical realism and I am looking forward to reading other books in the genre. Magical realism is almost the same as fantasy but its just regular people in regular world that have magic or powers, in this case wings. Let the tittle not decieve you this is a historical fiction, the book took place between late 1800 to mid 1900. You must think am mistaken because this is a YA novel, so the time period should be shorter but I kid you not, that is exactly the time period. Despite Ava the main character being 15 when the book ended, she was only present for like 40% of the book, its one of the thungs I didn't like about the book. The title and synopsis made it look like the book is all about her but its more about her whole family including her ancestors.I also didn't like the story telling technique adapted by the author. The story started with Ava's great grand parents, how they moved to the US from France, every detail was included, nothing was left out. After that her grandmother, mother before her.Thankfully the things I love in this book surpassed the ones I disliked. I love the plot so much, I've never read anything quite like it, it was absolutely amazing. I adore the writing style, the depiction was perfect and the historical setting was nicely done.The characters were okay but was a bit annoying, especially Viviane and Emeliene, I know they've been through a lot in the past, but they made it seems like they have nothing to live for, while they have children to care for. Ava was amazing, thankfully she didn't take over the women in her family. Henry and Gabe remain my favourite characters in the book, they are just the best.

  • Hershey
    2019-03-22 01:32

    To say this book was beautiful would be an understatement.This book was magical. This book was atmospheric. This book was memorable.It's been awhile since I read a book that has left me thinking long after since I've finished it. This book left me with my emotions warring inside me, happiness triumphing sadness, sadness triumphing happiness and so forth. I cannot even tell you how I feel now, it has been weeks since I have finished this masterpiece and I'm still thinking about it. I cannot stop thinking about it. This is my first adventure into magical realism and I think I love my extraordinary adventure. Seldom do I ever come across books that make me think for weeks and make my heart ache, wanting for more. Always wanting for more.“Love makes us such fools.”The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender is not really centered around Ava Lavender but it is centered around her whole family. The story starts with how her grandmother Emilienne was born, how her life turned out and how her mother Viviane came into existence and then finally, Ava, how she came into this world with that beautiful and unnatural wings of hers.The characters in this book are very visceral. They love, they hurt, they want to love and they're scared because pain, pain is just painful. But life, life is painful. That is the universal truth. And you, dear reader, will feel everything they feel. The writing just flows without any hiccups. You can sink right into the writing. God, it was so hard not to swoon over Walton's magical, smooth and beautiful writing style. Walton seemed to me like the Queen of Words and I cannot believe that this is her first novel.“Children betrayed their parents by becoming their own people.”I didn't think I would like this book when I read the first few pages. I didn't think I would fall for it. And then, out of nowhere, I was sucked right into it. I was mesmerized and fascinated with how Walton weaved the story, how she crafted it and how her final words made my heart ache.At several stages, I would want to tell the characters in this book that everything will be okay. I wanted to comfort them and promise them of happiness. When their hearts break, mine breaks too. When they cry, I feel like crying too. That's how beautifully Walton has weaved this story. She makes you feel the characters' pain, loss and happiness. She makes you smell the rain, the grass and the fresh bread baking. She'd make your mouth water with her lovely descriptions of cakes and sweets. And she will definitely make your heart ache.“It was the song of the birds in 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.” You will feel like you were in a different place when you read this book. And you probably might hate reality after reading this book.This book, like its name suggests is very strange and very beautiful. I haven't read such a unique novel. I want to read it again. I want to smell and feel those wonderful and terrible things again. This book is heavily intoxicating and I think this would be my new personal brand of heroin ;)

  • ♛Tash
    2019-03-17 03:47

    Contrary to the title The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender is not entirely about Ava Lavender. It is about three generations of women in the Roux-Lavender family, from Emilienne to Viviane and finally to Ava, and heartbreak.“Love makes us such fools.”A recurring line and the prevalent theme. The book treats us to the different acts of either selflessness or foolishness in the name of love. How you perceive them depends from which camp you’re from. I myself belong to the latter.This lovely novel is reminiscent of my favorite book One Hundred Years of Solitude, since it's also centered on family, love and legacy, with a hefty serving of magic realism. Magic realism has been my jam since I first read One Hundred Years of Solitude at sixteen. I’ve read books with poorly incorporated magic realism and the result is ludicrousness (I am almost sure this is a word), and I can say that Leslye Walton has no such problems. She expertly weaves magic to her story that I barely paused when I read sentences like"In disgust, she charged toward him and, with an angry shove, pushed him out the window as she screamed, “ Eighteen children!” He bounced off the pavement, sprang to his feet, and ran away, never to be seen again."In fact, Walton's writing has that same lyrical, lengthy paragraphed beat as that of Gabriel Garcia Márquez, down to the nonchalance in breaking my heart in a single sentence.The characters are well drawn and pleasantly strange - Emilienne is either a clairvoyant or a mentalist, Viviane has an uncanny sense of smell that can detect changes in the weather and emotions, and Ava has her wings. The setting is mainly in Seattle,way before Christian Grey and Starbucks. Walton evokes ambient descriptions of the perennial Seattle rains and its changing seasons“The first of many autumn rains smelled smoky, like a doused campsite fire, as if the ground itself had been aflame during those hot summer months. It smelled like burnt piles of collected leaves, the cough of a newly revived chimney, roasted chestnuts, and the scent of a man's hands after hours spent in a wood shop.”I recommend this novel if – 1.) you enjoyed The Night Circus, any of Sarah Addison Allen and Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s books 2.) you don’t mind extensive descriptions and background stories 3.) magic realism is your kind of jam too.In case I forgot to say it in my ramblings above, I completely adore this novel and Leslye Walton, but I don’t think I will ever forgive her for throwing shade at Platypuses. They're not ridiculous at all, they are cute.

  • Melanie
    2019-03-15 00:57

    See more reviews at YA Midnight ReadsIt looks like I am the tiny little dot of negative-ness amongst the sea of loving reviews. So yes, I am a black sheep. And yes, you should still consider this book because trust me, most of you will adore The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender. There’s nothing much to hold distaste towards, the characters, idea and writing are all brilliant.The main reason to why I did not like The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender was simply just because of me. There’s no particular and convincing reason apart from the fact that I just could not get into this book. I guess I was just not interested in reading about a generation’s saga. Fine. So it mentions it in the synopsis but it was just too much for me. Moreover, the title is slightly misleading. It suggests that this is a story about Ava Lavender, but we end up reading about her entire ancestory, which at times I found boring, and at other times, just not really connecting with me. But that’s just me. Let me get to why you still should give this book a go.The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender has the most beautiful writing. I am totally envious of this author, and in love with it simultaneously. Like the synopsis notes, the writing is lyrical and poetic, devastating and tragic. It feels very real, what the author is writing about. We basically have three main characters, Emilienne, Viviane and Ava. Emilienne is Ava’s maternal grandmother. Emilienne fell in love three times which all ended drastically. When she does get married off to a man, she gives birth to Viviane. Viviane’s love life is also a pretty unsucessful one, as her heart is broken by her childhood friend that she was absolutely in love with. We then go down the line to Ava, who is the narrator of the story, who was born with wings on her back and has a brother who cannot talk. The story is grim and rather miserable, so if you love tragic reads, this one is definitely for you.All in all, The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows was not for me. I wanted to love it for it’s writing and well-rounded characters however I felt detached from the book for a reason I still have no explanation before. Absolutely an it’s-me-not-you situation.

  • Argona
    2019-03-07 02:56

    First of all, please pay attention to the word “Sorrows” that is right there in the title and take it very seriously. I didn’t and I paid for it! *coughs* Back to the review, I will do my best to avoid spoilers as much as possible and I will try to be vague.I read this book in a buddy read with my dear friend, Roya. Thank Roya!*Waves* I admit only the magical powers of buddy read could have pulled me through the beginning of this book. As mentioned by other reviewers, this isn’t only story of Ava. It’s actually the story of three generations of women and all the people around them so the beginning was a little hard to get into. I continued to read and I finally got pulled into the story thanks to the writing. I found the writing absolutely beautiful. So beautiful that it helped me to get over the stupidity of the characters. I found it almost lyrical and poetic. Leslye Walton knows how to write! Magical realism is one of my favorite genres and thanks to the amazing writing, I started to really enjoy this story. Unfortunately, I didn’t find the story and characters as strong and as compelling as the writing. I enjoyed this book while I was reading it but my opinion about the story lowered after finishing it and the more I thought about it. There is hardly a plot or a central story. If you ask me about the story, I might blink a lot and just stare at you. This is simply the story of generations of one magical family and their tragic experiences when it comes to love. I am sorry to say I had many problems with this family and their story.First, the beginning chapters contain tragedy after tragedy. So much that it felt forced and too much to me. All these catastrophes in one family? I thought this is magical REALISM! Second, many times I couldn’t relate to characters and their choice of action. I simply can’t relate to a woman that makes love to a man that has betrayed her, is abandoning her and is marrying another woman. I can’t relate to a woman that stays in love with such a man for years and ignores another man that actually stays with her through all this time, protecting her and all that she loves. A man that she actually finds attractive but ignores to avoid heartbreak! So…you still love the first one but you don’t want to give this one a chance? This hardly makes sense to me.Also, I can’t relate to a man that fights for a girl all through his childhood and adolescent, periods of life that a child really craves parents’ attention and approval, and then suddenly decides to abandon this woman when he becomes an independent adult just to gain the said approval.I can imagine dragons very easily but I have a hard time imagining such stupid human-beings.My other problem is the message of this book. I thought about it and I found it unclear, vague and even wrong. Was it the power of hope? Nope. Hope is hardly mentioned. Was it staying positive? Nope, most healing processes just happen magically. Was it giving life a second chance? Maybe. None of these messages were highlighted enough in this story and all attention was focused on this one message: “Love makes us such fools.” Really? I can’t accept this. To me, being in love is not a good excuse to steal someone else’s husband. Being in love, does not justify it to sleep with your sister’s fiance and have his child. It’s not ok to cheat on your wife and then murder your lover because you’re in love. It’s not ok to volunteer for a bullet in the face just because you’re in love! It’s not ok to turn yourself into a damn bird forever because you want a man to notice you and he is into birds! How stupid is that? I know symbolism plays an important role in magical realism but a story has to make sense and have a meaning. I find this kind of message wrong and unhealthy! Get help people!Don’t get me wrong, there are also beautiful examples of love in this book. There are people that marry out of necessity and grow to love each other after getting to know each other. There is friendship and love between two little girls all throughout their lives. There is a man loving a broken woman for years and never asking for anything in return. There is a man that nurtures another man’s children for years and considers them his own. There is love between mother and daughter. There is love and friendship between two damaged but strong women that decide to rely on each other to get through life. Somewhere near the end, I read this quote and I found it absolutely amazing and beautiful:“Just because love don't look the way you think it should, don't mean you don't have it.”I was so ready to give this book a high rating. I thought the story is about to let go of all those foolish and harmful versions of love from the beginning of the story. That now it wants to draw attention to these vague but beautiful examples of love that I mentioned above. To love in disguise! But I am afraid this was not the case and those foolish and twisted versions of love took many more pages compared to these. The story was very predictable. It spent pages building up to a particular tragedy and it was very obvious about it. Many pages were used to build up into this tragedy and yet very little goes to what happens after the tragedy, its effect on people and the healing process. Sometimes people appreciate life more after near-death experiences and I was hoping to read about these changes in people around the victim but I was disappointed to read only a few sentences regarding each character. It’ true that tragedy can make people reevaluate their priorities in life in very little time but I simply needed to read more about these changes to find a deep meaning in them. I was even more surprised that the victim’s healing process only took a few pages. In just a few chapters, very short chapters, she gets over the trauma and finds the resolution to live and love again. It just happens! Magically! Very disappointing. Again, what happened to the realistic aspect of the story? People are supposed to magically regain hope and positivity after reading all the tragedy and misery in this book. How does this help a depressed reader or a person that currently struggles with life?My other problem with this book is what I call plot holes. I actually really love nonsense stories that have their own unique logic, like "Alice in Wonderland" or "Howl's moving castle" but I had a hard time finding much logic in many parts of this story. There are ghosts that can communicate with certain members of a magical family. They want to warn the family against a horrifying tragedy that is about to happen to one of the members of this family. They don’t communicate with the poor victim at all and I assumed they couldn’t but right before the end and AFTER the tragedy, they easily engage in conversations with her. Why didn’t you choose to warn HER then? And not everyone else besides her?Also, turns out these ghosts can burn a human-being into crisp. I think I understand why they didn’t attack the villain before the actual crime. Perhaps they were giving him the benefit of doubt or they couldn’t get involved before any wrongs was actually committed. But how come they didn’t stop him in the middle of the said horrifying brutal act when they obviously could? Why chase him and kill him afterwards? Clearly they could wonder around and weren’t even bound to a certain building or individual.Also there is this little girl that wonders around and alternates between being like a vampire and a ghost. Who? What?I almost forgot, the story is told from first person POV and yet the narrator knows what was going on in the minds of family members that die before her birth! How does she know such details about her ancestors? I KNOW! MAGIC! *Gasps*And last but not least, the ending! It was not very satisfactory. I kept thinking that surely the author has a purpose for listing all these sorrows and miseries. Surely the story is going to end with a very positive message. It did. Kind of. I think? I thought very hard and I found it somewhere in the last pages. After generations, one woman chooses to give love a second chance and take the leap at the right time. Not freaking 15 years later! So good messages are there too but you have to grab a shovel and dig.All in all, this book was beautifully melancholic. The story was memorable and atmospheric. Leslye Walton is very talented when it comes to writing. She paints with words! There isn’t really a solid plot but the story moves in a lovely flow thanks to this writing. This book has many positive reviews and there is a high chance that you’re going to love it so ignore all this rambling that you wasted your life reading and give it a try.At the end, Platypuses are cute! There is nothing wrong with them and their existence is not stupid or pointless! Thank you very much!

  • Liz* Fashionably Late
    2019-03-20 23:43

    4.5 Stars"I loved you before, Ava. Let me love you still."Emocional, imaginative, mesmerizing, lyrical, tragic, inspiring.Words can't describe it. I'm truly amazed.Every once in a while one of these finds me. These are stories with an awe-inspiring writing, lovely characters and heartbreaking moments. I run away from these books as fast as I can but here I am.This is not a love story but a story about love.We know love. We've felt it in the most unusual situations. We've seen it in people's eyes, words and actions. We've accepted even when we weren't worthy. We've demanded without saying a word. But we know that its absence can cloud our lives. Its betrayal could kill our hopes. Losing it could mean losing ourselves."She spent her days trying to forget the sound of his voice, and her nights trying to remember."Women in this story know love. But also loss, betrayal and sorrow. Every single one of them begins their journey with the hope and illusion of someone who's never felt pain. They're willing to give their heart fully but as Leslye Walton says, it seemed like "the world had given up on love and clung instead to its malformed cousins: lust, narcissism, self-interest". They carry the legacy of a bakery store, love wounds and a surreal dreamlike tale.My only issue with this and the reason for the missing half star is that the incident, tragic and sorrowful as it was, lacked of something. Even if I might sound a little heartless, it was of little consequence in a bigger picture. Stories so well written as this one don't need a bigger picture to be what they are, master pieces, but somehow I was waiting for a sign from the highest or a wink of the universe.However, this was a perfectly weaved story with vulnerable characters and a superb whimsical narrative. I believe Ava Lavender's story is about the healing power of love.

  • Rebbie
    2019-03-25 00:52

    This book is so, so beautiful. It's like inhaling the feeling of yearning and hope that is sometimes carried in the autumn breeze. If you're lucky the breeze will sneak up on you and make you fall in love with being alive. And when it does, all you can do is inhale and try not to let go. And when the feeling inevitably escapes the fibers of your being, your heart fractures. Nothing lasts forever, and that's what makes it so breathtakingly bittersweet. That heartbreak is how I felt when I finished this book.The writing itself is lyrical and the magical realism gives the story an almost tangible quality. The vibrant feelings behind the words feel as if they scroll right off the page and into my heart.I'm taking a trip down memory lane with this book, as I read it over a year ago.So it's a nod to the quality of the storytelling that I'm able to recall particular scenes in vivid detail. I understand what the author is trying to say, and the fact that she's even saying it at all shows the readers how beautiful her soul is. The only other writer that can match the meaning behind the words is Paulo Coelho, in my opinion. I want to shout from the rooftops about what this story means and how vital and relevant it is, but then I'd be ruining it and rubbing away some of its magic.

  • Shannon (leaninglights)
    2019-03-15 04:54

    Just wow. I had no idea what to expect going into this book but man, it surpassed any expectations I had. This is one of my first delves into magical realism and I thought it was brilliant. GO READ THIS BOOK.