The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender is exactly as the title suggests – a very strange and quite a magical book. The title is misleading. Its not exactly about Ava at all, it mostly revolves on her family tree, more than herself. This is because, very strangely, Ava is born with wings and therefore she traces her family history to find out why she was born this way.
There are very little authors I’ve read that have written an EPIC opening paragraphs in their books. What does this say about me? That I really need to start reading better books this year! Walton’s opening sentence was fantastic and it drew me in. This is how it starts:
“To many, I was myth incarnate, the embodiment of a most superb legend, a fairy tale. Some considered me a monster, a mutation. To my great misfortune, I was once mistaken for an angel. To my mother, I was everything. To my father, nothing at all. To my grandmother, I was a daily reminder of loves long lost. But I knew the truth—deep down, I always did.
I was just a girl.”
I love that opening paragraph. It is definitely one of the best openings I’ve read in a book, which hasn’t been many to date.
I was only 2 chapters in and I already found it very tragic. Strange things start happening in the Roux family, following the death of Ava’s great grandfather. Three main women in this generation have strange ‘gifts.’ For starters, Emilienne can see ghosts, Viviane has a strong smell sense and the obvious one, Ava has a bird’s wings. Not an angel’s because it’s brown, instead of white.
It seems like tragic love stories run in the Roux/Lavender family, and I don’t know about you, it found it quite amazing on how Emilienne dealt with death. She just decided to move on with her life in Seattle. She fell in love three times before she got married but I got the impression that she didn’t exactly ‘love’ her husband, she only said she’d take good care of him. Viviane (Emilienne’s daughter) on the other hand… I found her quite pathetic. You’ll know why if you’ve read it.
About the characters – I had no attachment to them and didn’t feel very invested. I felt like it wasn’t about Ava, until the last 30% of the book. I sometimes wonder how Ava knows absolutely everything that happened in her family because she’s narrating it.
About the writing – it was absolutely beautiful and poetic. One of the most beautiful books I’ve read. I appreciate the imagery and the metaphors used in the writing. But at the same time, I just want an author to tell me the story without adding too much poetry because I do tend to get bored. The pacing was very slow, so you need patience but I think it was worth it because I enjoyed reading the last few chapters – couldn’t put it down.
The ending in the last quarter, I could sense it coming, so I wasn’t that surprised what was going to happen to Ava. The blurb hinted that she’d found out her fate. I’m not going to reveal any spoilers for those who have not read it but all I have to say is that it was not exactly a fate, just a misfortune, in my opinion.
This is Lesyle Walton’s first novel and it’s definitely a unique debut. Like I’ve already said, it’s a very strange book, but I like that.