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The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender (Hardcover)
On Our Shelves Now
I was moved by the beauty and magic of this novel. I
had to remind myself this is a young adult novel and honestly I’m convinced
this may find its home amongst other greats such as One Hundred Years of
Solitude and Song of Solomon.
Magical realism is a non-genre that grants literary clout but also gives
us a new view of the world that is delicious as the baked goods the women of
the family create in their bakery. The promised tragedy hinted throughout the
book is brutal; a comparison to Lovely Bones can be a helpful guide for
potential readers. Oh, yes did I forget to mention our protagonist Ava has
wings? Her family’s story does little to explain this but it does illuminate
the magic, mystery, and tragedy of love. Is it a blessing or a curse? Can we
protect our loved ones from the world or does it simply seal their fate?
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 naive 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.
About the Author
Leslye Walton was born in the Pacific Northwest. Perhaps because of this, she has developed a strange kinship with the daffodil - she too can achieve beauty only after a long, cold sulk in the rain. Her debut novel, The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, was inspired by a particularly long sulk in a particularly cold rainstorm spent pondering the logic, or rather, lack thereof, in love ? the ways we coax ourselves to love, to continue loving, to leave love behind. Leslye Walton has an MA in writing. When she's not writing, she teaches middle-school students how to read and write and, most important, how to be kind to one another, even on days when they don't really feel like it. She is currently working on her next novel. Leslye Walton lives in Seattle.
[A]n entrancing and sumptuously written multigenerational novel wrapped in the language of fable, magical realism, and local legend. ... Walton's novel builds to a brutal but triumphant conclusion. It's a story that adults and teenagers can appreciate equally.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Walton’s novel is both strange and beautiful in the best of ways. ... This multigenerational tale examines love and considers the conflicting facets of loving and being loved -- desire, despair, depression, obsession, self-love, and courage. ... It is beautifully crafted and paced, mystical yet grounded by universal themes and sympathetic characters. A unique book, highly recommended for readers looking for something a step away from ordinary.
—School Library Journal (starred review)
This love story by debut YA author Leslye Walton is as rare and perfect as Mona Lisa’s smile.
—Ellen Klein, Hooray for Books! (Alexandria, VA)
It is just as the title suggests, both strange and beautiful, and should be read by every lover of books, regardless of their age.
—Becky Quiroga Curtis, Books & Books (Coral Gables, FL)
[Ava's voice] is a beautiful voice—poetic, witty, and as honest as family mythology will allow. There are many sorrows in Walton’s debut, and most of them are Ava’s through inheritance. Readers should prepare themselves for a tale where myth and reality, lust and love, the corporal and the ghostly, are interchangeable and surprising.
In a sweeping intergenerational story infused with magical realism, debut author Leslye Walton tethers grand themes of love and loss to the earthbound sensibility of Ava Lavender as she recollects one life-altering summer as a teenager. ... Walton presents challenges that most teens will hopefully never face. She writes of love, betrayal, birth, murder, affection and rape--and wraps them in prose so radiant that readers feel carried by Ava's narrative. The heroine's humor and wisdom as she looks back at her life let us know that she is a survivor.
—Shelf Awareness (starred review)
The story’s language is gorgeous.
[This novel] should be remembered for the devastatingly beautiful character of Ava Lavender and how she depicts just what it is to be different.