Author: Leslye Walton
Genre: young adult, supernatural fiction
Source: publishers via NetGalley
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.
If you love beautiful prose set against unwordly magical realism, you've met your dream author with Leslye Walton. If you're a fan of unusual stories told in vibrant and unique voices, then The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender should be your next read. I went into this novel expecting something a little weird, a little odd, but the creative and original story contained within those short few hundred pages blew me away. I loved this book so much I ran out and bought the finished copy so I could pretend to read it again for the first time.
There's a lot to love about Walton's debut but my two favorites are the writing and the characters. These are usually the two elements of storytelling that I respond most to, and Walton uses each effectively. Her characters, be they winged or not, are authentic, real, lively, believable. Her prose is otherworldly and gorgeous, but remains relateable and without veering into corniness or cheese. Her prose isn't like any other author's I've read, but lovely in its own honesty and descriptiveness. This is a YA novel, but I believe that it has a genuine crossover adult appeal.
"[She] had been surprised by how quickly her body responded to his, how the lines of where she ended and he began seemed to melt when they touched."
It's just... a lovely, heartbreaking book. It makes you cry and makes you smile. Don't let my enthusiasm mislead you -- there is a lot of strangeness and charm to "Ava" (but really her whole family)'s story, but there is a multitude of pain in this story, too. There are wasted lives and years, unrequited love, betrayal and obsession...but even when the story veers into its wildest of plot twists, Leslye Walton sells it. She sells it through the plotting, or the characters, or her strong writing. It all just comes together so well; the end impression of The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender is just awe, heartache, and hope.