Book Review – The Strange And Beautiful Sorrows Of Ava Lavender


Title: The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender

Author: Leslye Walton

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Fantasy, Magical Realism

Length: 301

Rating: 5 Star



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.

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.


This book was the kind of book that grabs hold of you and changes who you are as a person ever so slightly. I went into this book with literally no expectations. I bought this book because I thought the cover was stunning. That was it. I actually didn’t think I was going to like it so much because there are so many things that could just be wrong with a book like this. A girl born with wings in an otherwise normal world. If the writing wasn’t good a story like that can fall apart before it even starts. But the writing in this book swept me up and carried me away to places I could not have imagined.

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.

This is a small to average sized book and it contained so much yet nothing went to waste. I thought this book would start right off on Ava, go straight into the strangeness of this girl. Instead we get Ava telling us how her life came to be right up until the very end of the book, starting off with her grandmothers parents, then moving onto her grandmother and her siblings lives, then her mothers, and finally hers and her brothers, going through all the things that lead them to the places they ended and the strangeness that seemed to flow within the family genes. Ava and her brother Henry were not even born till the very end of chapter nine.

This book contains so many characters that it would take me a very long time to mention them all, and normally in a short book like this many characters often feel flat or underdeveloped and just overall pointless to the story. This is not the case with tis book. Every single character that is mentioned in this book and been expertly woven and told and serves a purpose the story. The is no needless information given at any point in this story.

I don’t even really know what I can say about this book. The entire story had this magical feel and atmosphere to it that made you want to keep reading. It moves slow, but you don’t even notice, You can see where the story is going for Ava. Its not like its a secret, it says it on the very first page with to my great misfortune, I was once mistake for an angel, and in the synopsis with whose obsession with her grows until the night of the Summer Solstice celebration and build to a devastating crescendo. You know where the story is going from the very start. When I saw this part of the book coming I read it in twenty minute segments because I just didn’t want it to happen. I didn’t want to believe it and I didn’t want to experience that level of sadness. But I knew I had to if I want to see the conclusion of the story so I pushed through it. Poor poor Ava, and poor poor Henry. I feel as though Henry is this books readers inserted within the story. He knows whats coming, and we know whats coming, but no one else does and as we see it all unfolding and scream out to be heard, to warn, no one understands us and by the end there is nothing we can do because its already happened.

There is only one character I truly hate for what he inflicted, and its not hard to guess who that person is. But the whole of Ava’s life seems to be her dealing with people who cannot look past the pigeon like wings that protrude from her back, and how if someone other than herself had of just seen her as the girl she was and treated her thusly, all of this could have been avoided.

I acknowledged Gabe and his attempts of flight the way a legless child might view a hopeful and misguided parent buying a house full of stairs. After awhile, when Gabe offered me a morning greeting, it didn’t feel like he was greeting me but rather a giant pair of wings; no girl, just feathers.

This is a story about love in all forms, with complete and utterly heartbreaking honesty, sometimes so honest that you just don’t even want to acknowledge it. It is a story about the choices we make in life and where they lead us. How life can be a horrid waste, where obsession can lead, the effects desire can have, and how everything you know your life to be could have been different if you had of just chosen a different path, or accept the one that was placed in front of you.

She laughed for her wasted, difficult life that never had to be wasted or difficult in the first place.

This story is sad, happy, intoxicating, and just so unbelievably beautiful its enough to crush the soul. It came upon me slowly like everything comes upon you with this book, and it wasn’t until I realised I was having so much trouble reading up to the section that I undertood just how much I love this book and how much it has forever effected me. I have not felt like this about a book since On The Jellicoe Road and this book has soared to the top of my all time favourite books list.

If you haven’t guessed already, I think everyone should read this book if they are at an age where they can properly understand the meanings portrayed within its pages. Because of this book, Leslye Walton has been places on my ‘must buy’author list and I cannot wait to see what she brings the world in the future. I just… I just can’t get over it. To anyone who has read this book, please come to me and discuss the ending. I have so many feelings and for the first time after reading a book I feel as though if I don’t discuss it with someone I might explode. It causes me physical pain.


Till Next Time…


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