Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender

Walton, L. (2014). The strange and beautiful sorrows of Ava Lavender. NY: Candlewick Press.
Young Adult / Adult / Fantasy / Magic
320 pages

I gave this book 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Check out the book trailer!

Tragical, magical, and fantastical! This is not a flowery, fluttery tale of teenage love. This is a multi-generational tale of the rawness, pain, and agony of love -- and the consequences to everyone in love's path. Ava's story truly begins with that of her great-grandmother, and the story flows seamlessly from there. Family that goes before us, we are reminded, never truly leaves us.

Walton's writing is amazing. The imagery is stunning and readers will be able to conjure the exact scenes with Walton's descriptions. Characters come to life and fade from life in both believable and fantastic ways.  

Something about the story -- more than it just being multi-generational -- reminded me of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude.  Perhaps it's the unfolding of the generations of stories, and then the rapid rewinding and swirling-together of them at the end.  It is dizzying in the most satisfying way.

I would recommend this to mature high school aged readers and higher, and I almost would say this is an adult book that works for young adults, not vice-versa. It is violent - there is rape, murder, and suicide. There is consensual sex (both teenaged and adult) and explorations of sexuality.  Nothing is overly graphic in the descriptions, but the descriptions are such that they are powerful scenes that stay with the reader long after reading them. And though there is plenty to which a teenager can relate -- Ava as a teen is very relate-able, wings and all -- there is also plenty to which only an adult can relate by virtue of life experience.

Thank you to NetGalley and Candlewick Press for providing this free ARC in exchange for an honest review. I give no other!


  1. I am about to start reading this...it sounds so interesting! I was drawn in by the jacket copy and that gorgeous cover!

    Kate @ Ex Libris

    1. I was drawn in by the cover as well. Lots of people complained the title was misleading, but I disagree. I think Ava is the sum of the experiences of all the generations that came before her, so it fits! Looking forward to your review!