Saturday, May 3, 2014

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

Title: The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender
Author: Leslye Walton
Genre: Young Adult, Magical Realism
Source: Walker Books via Goodreads First Reads. Thank you!
Goodreads | The Reading Room

Foolish love appears to be a Roux family birthright. And for Ava Lavender, a girl born with the wings of a bird, it is an ominous thing to inherit. In her quest to understand her peculiar disposition and a growing desire to join her peers, sixteen-year-old Ava ventures into the wider world. But it is a dangerous world for a naive girl...
Review by Nara

After I finished this book, I sat there feeling quite satisfied, but it wasn't until a few hours later that I realised just how much I enjoyed it. The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender was, quite simply, exquisite. 

Reading The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender was almost like reading a biography, or a memoir. There was a very matter-of-fact tone to it that made it seem quite realistic. You could almost ignore the aspect of magical realism and accept the story of the book as fact. A child born with wings? Yeah, that's fine. Ghosts following around one of the main characters? Totally acceptable. I have to admit, I'm a total sucker for beautiful writing, and this book certainly has some of the most lyrical writing I have ever encountered in YA. It's strange, because I wouldn't describe it as so-called "purple prose"- in fact, the writing is often very direct. But it's direct in a way that's oddly compelling and contemplative. It's almost more lyrical because of the understatement.

It takes a while for you to really get into the story, but once you've got your bearings, it's the sort of book that grabs your attention and refuses to let go. It's not that the pacing really changes in any way, but once you're introduced to the characters, you just have to find out what happens next, and how we end up with the sorrows of Ava Lavender. And when I got to the section of the book focusing on Ava, I couldn't help but brace myself- you really can see this morbid and tense undertone which eventually has everything snowballing into tragedy.

I haven't yet said anything about the characters, and I'm not going to say anything except this: this book is a generational saga that covers the lives of many individuals. Each character is uniquely interesting and likeable in their own way (except this one character who deserves no love whatsoever *glares at character*) and each has their own story to tell (except that one character whose story I would rather not listen to/would rather was cut short *glares again*).

While the majority of this book has an undeniably "sorrowful" tone, we do end on a note of fragile hope. Utterly unique and magnificently quirky, I do recommend that you read this book. It may not be for everyone, but for those who are willing to try something new, it's most certainly worth the risk.


Overall: 9/10
Plot: 4/5
Writing: 5/5
Characters: 5/5
Cover: 5/5