The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender
Author: Leslye Walton
Published by: Candlewick Press

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.

I usually don't rely on the Goodreads summary for my posts but this book is so hard to pin down. It is so difficult to talk about because it seriously just transcends any sort of categorization. It's amazingly simple yet all the characters are complex. It's beautifully written but easy to understand. It's fiction but it speaks of universal truths. It talks about love in its greatest and purest form and it talks about love in its obsessive and flawed forms.

As we go through life and gather knowledge about people and situations, the way we love and learn about love, changes. What we may have described as love in the second grade is no longer the same things we want in a partner when we are 20. Sometimes who we love is completely wrong for us. Or we are in love with them at the wrong time. Other times finding the ability to love is hard and so we become cold to protect ourselves from heartbreak.

This book goes through every situation of love that one may have. And because loving and being loved are such integral parts of people's lives, it touches and resonates the entire time.

The book starts off with Ava talking about how she came to be, by delving into the lives of a few generations before her. It is light-hearted and quirky.

It kind of reminded me of the movie Amelie.  Which is a pretty interesting movie that you should watch.

Watch the trailer here! 

But as the book goes on the light-heartedness slows down. The quirkiness is still there. But the tone becomes a bit more somber.

After we're introduced to Ava, Henry, her grandma, and her mom, the plot revolves a bit more around Ava's problems. There are still many other characters but she is more-or-less the center now. She's been hiding in her house so long, fearful of the way people will react to her wings, that she wants to go out and just be a normal girl.

From the beginning I was intrigued. Some may think that there are too many characters and yet each one brings something to the story. There is no throwaway character. Each has their own mini-plot, mini-addition to the entire outcome - much like real life.

I know my review is probably hard to understand and doesn't do much justice to the book but seriously just go read it. This book is probably the best book I have read this year. It is so beautiful and so completely relatable that even people in their 90s would feel a connection to multiple characters within.

I give it 5 out of 5 cateye.

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