Friday, July 10, 2015

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender

Posted by A Drop of Romeo at 2:00 PM

Age: Young Adult
Category: Historical
Rating: 5 stars

Marta Thinks:“And that might just be the root of the problem: we’re all afraid of each other, wings or no wings.”

Leslye Walton’s debut novel reminds me a bit of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s books: the dreamy descriptions, the lulling magic realism, the continuous thread of yearning that is strung throughout the story. But — and I may be committing a sacrilege here — this is so much better. (Is it really sacrilege, though, if you know it’s true?)

Ava Lavender is a girl born with wings, born into a family of women who have foolishly and foolhardily fallen in love with the wrong men. More than half of the book is devoted to Ava’s grandmother and mother: their individual stories, each with their own strange and beautiful sorrows. Her grandmother, Emilienne, decides to enter a loveless marriage after a series of failed infatuations, and her daughter, Viviane, falls in love with a man she knows will never return to her. These personal histories read like long character portraits, but they’re not a monotonous list: they are a sweeping tale of devastation and broken hearts and fleeting hopes, some of which could have been avoided, some of which were beyond any form of control.

Romance is, of course, a focal point, but what is more interesting to see is the relationships formed between the wide cast of eccentric and lovable characters. They hurt each other, need each other, and are each others mirrors, reflections of the past and glimpses of the future. Familial attachments are not necessary: there is fumbling Gabe, Ava’s surrogate father who pines after Viviane; Marigold Pie, who falls back in love with life after visiting Emilienne’s bakery; Rowe, with his quiet passion and Nathaniel Sorrows, embodying the sorrows of the women in the Ava’s family.

The emotions in this book run deep, and can only be described by Walton’s gorgeous language, a composition of lyrical words that stir feelings from deep within. At the end, we can only hold this fragile book in our hands, this fragile book about the fragile hearts of people who have strange and beautiful sorrows that are, somehow, ours too.


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