The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender
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The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender

4.12 (19,923 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

A 2015 William C. Morris YA Debut Award Finalist 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 naive 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. First-time author Leslye Walton has constructed a layered and unforgettable mythology of what it means to be born with hearts that are tragically, exquisitely human.show more

Product details

  • 12-17
  • Hardback | 301 pages
  • 139.7 x 208.28 x 33.02mm | 385.55g
  • Candlewick Press (MA)
  • Somerville, United States
  • English
  • Illustrations, black and white
  • 0763665665
  • 9780763665661
  • 89,389

About Leslye Walton

Leslye Walton says that The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender began as a short story that came to her while listening to a song. She has an MA in writing, and this is her first novel. Walton is a native of Tacoma, Washington, and she currently teaches middle school in Seattle.show more

Review quote

[A]n entrancing and sumptuously written multigenerational novel wrapped in the language of fable, magical realism, and local legend. ... Walton's novel builds to a brutal but triumphant conclusion. It's a story that adults and teenagers can appreciate equally. --Publishers Weekly (starred review) Walton's novel is both strange and beautiful in the best of ways. ... This multigenerational tale examines love and considers the conflicting facets of loving and being loved -- desire, despair, depression, obsession, self-love, and courage. ... It is beautifully crafted and paced, mystical yet grounded by universal themes and sympathetic characters. A unique book, highly recommended for readers looking for something a step away from ordinary. --School Library Journal (starred review) This love story by debut YA author Leslye Walton is as rare and perfect as Mona Lisa's smile. --Ellen Klein, Hooray for Books! (Alexandria, VA) It is just as the title suggests, both strange and beautiful, and should be read by every lover of books, regardless of their age. --Becky Quiroga Curtis, Books & Books (Coral Gables, FL) This remarkable, magic-laced family history continues and spreads to other members of Ava's Seattle neighborhood to produce a gauzy narrative of love and loss... [An] intentionally artful tale. --Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books This magical lyrical story is a beautifully written novel with much to offer readers. ... Exquisite. --Library Media Connection [Ava's voice] is a beautiful voice--poetic, witty, and as honest as family mythology will allow. There are many sorrows in Walton's debut, and most of them are Ava's through inheritance. Readers should prepare themselves for a tale where myth and reality, lust and love, the corporal and the ghostly, are interchangeable and surprising. --Booklist The story's language is gorgeous. --Kirkus Reviews In a sweeping intergenerational story infused with magical realism, debut author Leslye Walton tethers grand themes of love and loss to the earthbound sensibility of Ava Lavender as she recollects one life-altering summer as a teenager. ... Walton presents challenges that most teens will hopefully never face. She writes of love, betrayal, birth, murder, affection and rape--and wraps them in prose so radiant that readers feel carried by Ava's narrative. The heroine's humor and wisdom as she looks back at her life let us know that she is a survivor. --Shelf Awareness (starred review) This. Book. Stole. Our. Hearts. It unfolds like a hauntingly beautiful dream (or is it a gorgeous nightmare?)... Strange and beautiful... violent and gorgeous. You gotta read it. A must-read for fans of beautiful monsters like Miss Peregrine's. --Justine Magazine Using detailed imagery and an almost mythical storytelling style, teenage Ava tells the history of four generations of her family. ... [Teens] willing to enter Ava's world on its own terms will find themselves richly rewarded. --BookPage [Ava] navigates through her family's history--along with her own--with a lyrical prose that maintains a whimsical and traditional fairy tale feel despite the sorrowful themes. ... Overall, I'm both impressed and dazzled by Leslye Walton's debut. "The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender" is a novel that has so many layers that it demands your attention. Written with the finesse of a seasoned writer, it's stunning, magical, strange and, of course, very beautiful. --Tor.com First-time novelist Leslye Walton has crafted a beautiful, haunting family history that spans generations and continents. The story's narrator, Ava, is achingly believable. ... "The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender" is not a typical love story. Walton's tale, by turns tragic and comic, expects readers to explore the big questions love raises -- why do we love the people we love, and why do we hold on to love that hurts? --The Times-News [This novel] should be remembered for the devastatingly beautiful character of Ava Lavender and how she depicts just what it is to be different. --The Guardian Foolish love and flight are Ava's family inheritance. Magical realism colors this tale of a girl normal but for the wings with which she was born. --San Francisco Chronicle The characters are rich and familiar, and Walton does whimsy with a healthy dose of melancholy and tragedy. The storytelling is completely beautiful... A particularly toothsome and pleasurable read. --Toronto Globe and Mailshow more

Rating details

19,923 ratings
4.12 out of 5 stars
5 43% (8,633)
4 34% (6,825)
3 16% (3,123)
2 5% (984)
1 2% (358)

Our customer reviews

Incredible! I've read a couple of times magical-realism but wasn't expecting to find it in a Young Adult book. I really didn't know what to expect from Ava, a sixteen-year old girl born with wings, sometimes mistaken for an angel. The book starts with Ava's grandmother, the story about her parents and brothers, and how everything in the end is connected to Ava. Their family story and writing reminded me of One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, definitely a plus for me. I was hooked since the beginning, Ava's grandmother and mother both had a difficult life as consequence to foolish love. But Ava was a great girl, not only for having wings, but for her way to see life. Her family have been always the 'weird', but she's ready to face the world, very naive and not expecting her life to be so tragic. Love. Ah. It's about love, but I wouldn't call it a romance book. It's realistic love, not happily ever after love, and more than narrating a romance, it's about how some relationships turn out being very sad and affect the lives of everyone around. It may not be a book for everyone, it's not superficial or trivial, but I absolutely loved it! (although it broke my heart a couple of times). It only took me a few hours to read it, but who needs sleep right?. I definitely recommend it! Excellent addition to the YA literature.show more
by Maria Guajardo (GABY)
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