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The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

10 Mar

Recent William C. Morris Debut Award finalist! 18166936

 The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender

In a haunting and richly imagined multi-generational narrative comes an offbeat tale of a girl born with wings with a heritage of heartbreak, tragedy, and being an outcast on the fringes of society.

To preface and give depth to her own story, our heroine Ava Lavender begins her tale with the story of her Maman, her great-grandmother who immigrated to “Manhatine” and had four children, one of them Ava’s grandmother Emilienne. From Maman to Emilienne and her siblings, then Ava’s mother Vivianne, and finally Ava and Henry, each suffer terrible heartbreak that is offset through magical abilities and passed down in an odd legacy. Ava herself is struggling to understand her past and her identity, especially how a girl with wings fits into the world. Sheltered by her mother and grandmother, Ava longs to be normal and tries to break out of the protected circle of her home with mixed results. Her best friend and bff’s brother both love her purely, but Ava’s wings draw the comparison with angelic power. In that day and age, there was a lot of superstition and secrecy, denouncing sin but hiding cruelty. Ava’s mystical circumstance catches the perverted notice of a young clergyman and what follows is the brutality and brilliance of love, both the exploited kind and the true kind that eclipses all before it.

I both loved and hated this book, so it is a little hard to explain. I loved the writing, the imagery, the unique tale, but the plot and a few other particular areas, I disliked with a passion. I would not know how to recommend this book to anyone. Really. Definitely not anyone with a strong religious bent. It does contain violence, sexual circumstances, and graphic sexual scenes. I also did not find that the title at all fit with my reading of the book. I thought the ending rather too sad to be at all beautiful, and so horribly tragic that I won’t be picking it up again. I’m sure something by Shakespeare would describe it. Or perhaps poems about death, how comparisons are drawn with beautiful and peaceful things, but then death is violent and bloodthirsty and insatiable…

Note: Not for the majority of middle grade readers.

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Posted by on March 10, 2015 in Fantasy, Young Adult/Teen

 

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