Sunday, 9 August 2015

Review: The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

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 na├»ve 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.

Date of Publication: 27 March 2014

I don’t even know how to start with this book because it’s so beautiful.
Leslye Walton is going to be on my auto-buy list of authors because the world she creates feels so real and surreal at the same time. She uses magical realism like it’s something she’s done for a 100 years. In fact, the reason I enjoyed her magical realism was that I feel it shows a truer version of the world – feelings and thoughts felt on the inside are illustrated on the outside in ways which show a raw and magical reality. In this world if I felt rejected my heart would literally break and that adds this layer of silver honesty which was perfect.

The story spanned generations of the Roux family which made it feel like an epic - years of tragedy, lost love, desire and regret. I devoured every single story and read every single word like they were the last words I’d ever read. It felt like I was absorbed in a cinematic universe of colours, pain and angel wings with each story. Seeing the different downfalls of the family and the ways they succumbed or survived was mesmerising and emotional. I felt so emotionally invested in all the character’s stories, especially Ava and Viviane’s stories - I haven’t experienced anything like they have yet it felt like I had felt everything they felt - like a pang in the heart, a midnight kiss or a breaking heart - on a new starry out-of-this-world level. 

Ava was born with angel wings but in the end she’s just a girl who wants to fit in. I think the exploration of the importance of self-acceptance and finding people in your life who love you as you are is wonderful because everyone can relate to that. I loved the progression of her story because it stayed true to her character yet showed her grow into someone stronger - character development is one of my favourite journeys to go on. Her character shone like someone had painted her with golden glitter, and so did the romance she experiences because that shimmered with blossoming flowers and constellations because it was so refreshing and sweet - it didn’t overpower the plot but it played a role in it that felt natural. 

Also, Ava has a twin brother who has never spoken a word - and can I just say I LOVED how his character grew because it was adorable and weird and lovely. 
Nathaniel Sorrows thinks that Ava is an angel and not an ordinary girl because of her angelic and majestic wings. We get to see his perspective and just thinking about him gives me chills because he’s so set on his views that nothing stops him. His existence in the book adds suspense that keeps you feeling wide awake and a bit frightened for our favourite characters because he’s cruel and obsessive and we can see that through every word he uses and every thought he thinks. 
Viviane and Jack's stories was one of my favourite to read - and Emilienne's and her sisters so maybe just all of them! - because its equal amounts hopeful and heartbreaking so I think it's a story that takes you places you don't always expect it to go which can be so immersive.

The settings were so vividly described that they spilled out of the pages with the smell of newly baked bread, celebrations and rain-soaked grass and the colours of a swirly and perfect masterpiece. 

So read it for the characters, read it for the scale, read it if you want to live in a crooked fairytale;)


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