Title: The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender
Author: Leslye Walton
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Pub Date: 03/25/14
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: The title says it all. This is a generational tragedy about a very odd family plagued with bizarre deaths, lost loves, and one sibling who gets turned into a parakeet. The use of magical realism and very lyrical prose drew me in, but I only got about halfway through. I kept waiting for the story to get to Ava Lavender herself, a girl born with wings, but a majority of the book is about her tragic and magical lineage. At the point where I stopped, the story of Ava’s mother had gotten too soap-opera-y for my taste, so I put the book down and never came back to it. It would have been nice to have other plot points besides death, abandonment, and wallowing, which became repetitive.
Memorable or Forgettable: Even though I couldn’t get to the end, this book is still memorable because of its unusual style. It had several main characters, all women, with interesting tales about immigration, inherited weirdness, and isolation. It’s the first YA book I’ve read that covers a whole family instead of a single main character, and the prose was indeed beautiful.
Cover: This cover is lovely. The contrast between the thatched blue background and golden lines of the feather looks great and got my attention. I always prefer covers that aren’t photoshopped pictures, and having an original graphic works really well. I guess the feather is there because Ava has wings.
Age Range: 14 through 17
Quality: 3Q Readable
Popularity: 3P Some teen appeal
tags: fantasy / magical realism / ya lit