May 27, 2014

Review: The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender

I want to complain about that cover. I never would have picked this book up in a bookstore because that cover does not speak to me. It is plain, it is hard to read the title, and the connection to the novel just doesn't work for me. 

Guys—do NOT let that cover deceive you. This novel is fab!

Title: ‘The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender’
Author: Leslye Walton
Pages: 320
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Available: NOW at your local library/book store
Source: Netgalley

Summary (from Goodreads):

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.

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.

My Thoughts:

One word to describe this novel: WOW. Seriously, I was shocked by how much I truly loved this story. I loved taking the journey with the Roux family. This novel was the whole package for me.

I want to deal with the plot first. This book is full of raw emotion and storytelling. I was not prepared. I thought it would be a bit of a quirky read; I mean, a girl born with wings sounds pretty quirky.

Walton takes readers through several generations of the Roux family—ending with Ava. It seems as if this family is cursed when it comes to love. Each generation has her own “battle” to fight, but they all try to be practical in their life choices.

I loved every single character. While Ava's name is in the title, this is not solely her story. She shares her woes with her grandmother and her mother.

Ava's grandmother is a strong woman who must overcome town gossip in order to survive and feed her baby.

Ava's mother is almost Gatsby-like (just without the money). She is waiting for her true love to return for her. So much so that she cannot bring herself to even leave the house.

There's Gabe, a man who comes into the night to help with odds and ends around the house, and who works ferociously to try to find a way for Ava to use her wings to fly.

Jack Griffith—a childhood friend of Ava's mother who has big aspirations in life, and a father he cannot please.

There's Ava's twin brother, who is autistic (it doesn't so say in the text, but he is).

And then there's Ava. A girl born with wings who wants nothing more than to be “normal” and to live a normal life. But, her mom seems to have other plans for her.

There are other players, but that's about all I can write without giving away really important plot points—and trust me, you don't want this story ruined for you.

The setting of this novel is also a character, bringing just enough charm to the page to make the reader feel at home but providing just enough menace to remind readers that all is not as it appears.

This novel is an engaging story of love and loss and heartbreak spanning over several generations of the Roux family, and it is an absolute must read.

Do I recommend this book?

Absolutely. I do feel that this novel is more suitable to a more mature reader. This not a novel for everyone, but I feel as if you are a big reader and are mature by nature, this novel will appeal to you.

I do need to caution you—the novel does contain sex. It's not graphic nor overly descriptive, but when I read a YA novel with sex, I always like to give a heads-up about it because I know not everyone approves. There is also a rape, which absolutely broke my heart, but that is the job of a writer—to tell a true story.

This is one of my favorite novels of 2014—share one of yours below.

Happy Reading!

-      The Hodgenator

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