The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender – Review

“To my great misfortune, I was once mistaken for an angel”

Pain in love is the Roux family birthright. For Ava Lavender, a girl born with the wings of a bird, it is key to her fate.

The strange and beautiful sorrows of ava lavender came to me highly recommended by a friend who one day at the library waved a copy towards me with great enthusiasm exclaiming that I would without a doubt love this book. In this story Ava Lavender, a girl born in 1944 becomes a mythical being to her family when she was born with a pair of speckled wings. Told from the young girls perspective we follow her as she explores her origins starting with her grandmother Emilienne.

Of all the characters we meet I found Emilienne to be the most heart breaking. Watching her lose every love in her life one by one until she had no room for it in her life, left only with the ghosts of her once full life and a skill for seeing the word with brilliant clarity. What I loved most about this character was her strength; although she was left scarred by the many losses of her life she never became incapable. i found myself craving more and more of Emilienne and probably would have been satisfied if the entire book had been about her life.

Next came Ava’s mother Vivienne, her story mostly revolved around her one great love, Jack. From childhood sweetheart, to father of her children, to distant memory we are told of the unrelenting love Vivienne blindly becomes consumed by even after the birth of her twins, Henry and Ava.

Henry is probably the family member we learn least about. Living his life almost silently he has a talent for maps and a sweet affection for words. Despite the mystery surrounding Henry he is one of the most crucial characters to uncovering the destiny of his sister Ava. Even though I understand the reasons behind keeping his incentives shrouded in mystery I wish we could have learned more about Henry’s life. He is a fascinating character and I felt as if parts of his story were left incomplete.

Ava is of course the heroine of the story, a girl unlike the women before her who refuses to hold back from the world in spite of any reason she may have to be afraid. To some she was a mythical creature, to some she was merely a scientific freak of nature and to one she was an angel but to her family she is the one who breaks them free of their individual sorrows.

Leslye Walton writes in an engrossing way using metaphors beautifully to deepen the meaning of the story. Her use of language creates vivid characters whose lives although tragic you can’t help but want to learn more about. Although this story is very much a fantasy the emotions and sorrows are heart wrenchingly real and I’m not ashamed to say I was left in tears upon finishing this book.

If you enjoy slightly surreal stories with a background feeling of a historical romance I highly recommend this book. Leslye Walton ties together so many beautiful concepts to create a highly emotional, involving story that will stay with you weeks after you close the book.



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