Review Detail

Young Adult Fiction 8424
A story of heartbreak, but ultimately one of love
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
This book is so incredible, yet so difficult to describe. It is told through the eyes of teenage Ava Lavender, born under the strangest of circumstances and possessing a pair of dappled wings. The story follows her great grandparents as they immigrate to America anticipating an easy life and streets paved with gold. It continues through the life of Ava's grandmother Emilienne and tells the tale of her 4 great loves, all of whom came to a disastrous end. The torch is then passed to Ava's mother, Viviane who experiences the loss of a beautiful love and is left with a pair of twins: Ava with the wings of an angel and Henry who rarely emerges from the world in his mind. The entire family is both blessed and cursed with an ethereal strangeness that follows from one generation to the next. It is a story of heartbreak, but ultimately, one of love.

Leslye Walton's writing style is simply magical. When I venture into the world of adult books, it tends to be in the genre of magical realism like Sarah Addison Allen's books. It is not a genre that I tend to encounter often in YA novels and I was surprised to see how well it lends itself to the novel. That being said, there are some elements that made me wonder if this should really be considered YA. There are descriptions of women's breasts, male masturbation, sex between teens and rape that might make some younger readers (and their parents) uncomfortable.

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender features some of the most unique characters that I have encountered. Nearly all of them, including the side characters, are well developed and easy to fall in love with, or easy to pity. Ava served as our omniscient narrator and was wonderful in this role. There is a sweet sadness in the characters that is not easy to accomplish. None of the characters wallowed in self pity, forcing to reader to lose patience, it was clear that they were in pain, but they eventually pushed forward with life. A particular favorite of mine was Gabe, the stoic man who stood by Viviane and helped raise her strange and wonderful children in the hope that she might one day turn her head his way and realize that he had been there all along.

Throughout the novel, we see love found and love lost and the impact that it can have. The novel features young love in its sweetest and most heartbreaking of forms. We watch as these characters, with whom we ourselves have fallen in love with, suffer the pain of a broken heart and, eventually, discover that, despite their scars, love is still waiting. With this phenomenal debut novel, I am officially signing up for anything else Leslye Walton has in store for us.
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