The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender ...
The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender
Age Range - Mature Young Adult
Genre - Fantasy
Five Star Award

LitPick Review

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Age at time of review - 13
Reviewer's Location - Baltimore, Maryland, United States
View ClarissaAdeleMorgenstern's profile
The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, by Leslye Walton, tells the story of three generations of women in the Lavender family.  The story begins with Emilienne Roux, Ava Lavender's grandmother.  Emilienne is strange;  she is very perceptive and can interpret meaning in ordinary events.   For example, she would interpret a dropped spoon to indicate someone will be visiting soon.  Emillienne lives with her parents and her siblings until tragedy destroys her family.  Everyone Emilienne has loved has died or disappeared, so she marries a man she doesn't love him, and they move far away to Seattle.  Emilienne has a daughter, Viviane, who's highly perceptive sense of smell allows her to identify people and emotions.  Like Emilienne, Viviane has her own troubles with love. Viviane has two twin children who she homeschools and does not  allow to leave their home or yard.  Her daughter Avais born with the wings of a bird and her son, Henry, doesn't speak until he is thirteen.  Although he is very intelligent,  he doesn't always express himself in understandable ways.  When her best friend and neighbor, Cardigan, invites her to a party, Ava begins to want a normal teenage life.   She sneaks out with Cardigan sometimes, not realizing that, partly because of her escapades, a very religious man, Nathaniel Sorrows,  believes that she is an angel and has become obsessed with her.  What will Nathaniel's obsession lead to?  Does Ava really need to fit in?


I absolutely loved this book.   The fantastical writing style is amazing.  There were many interesting twists in the story,  like "When American soil could be seen from the ship, the passengers breathed a collective sigh of relief so strong, it caused a change of direction in the winds..."  The magic was incorporated perfectly.  For example, one of Emilienne's sisters transforms herself into a bird to attract the attention of an ornithologist.  The plot was well done and, because of the omniscient third person narrator, the book feels a little like a myth.  I really liked how Ava's, Emilienne's and Viviane's stories were all going on at the same time and how the stories were resolved,

This book wasn't just a book about Ava; it was about her entire strange family.  All of the characters had interesting histories.  I really liked most of the characters, and the marvelous writing takes you along on their emotional roller coasters.  I enjoyed the intricate backstory for almost every character, as well as the house in Seattle.   I would recommend this book for teen readers who enjoy magic realism and complex books.

Content Rating:

Content rating - some mature content

Explain your content rating: 

There are references to sex and very little language.



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