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The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender Hardcover – March 25, 2014
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Top Customer Reviews
Honestly, I knew nothing about this book before I opened the cover. Even after reading the synopsis, I couldn't tell you what it was about. I had no clue why I wanted to read it so badly, but I did. So, I filled out a purchase request at the library, and when it came in--slightly before the release date--I had to sneak a peek. And I almost couldn't put it down.
4 Things You Should Know:
1. This is not your grandma's love story.
Ava may be the main character, but the book is about more than just her. The women of the Roux family have a long and sorrowful history of ill-fated love, which Ava catalogues faithfully, beginning with her great-grandmother. Told from Ava’s contemporary point-of-view, she chronicles the lives and deaths of her ancestors, as well as the peculiarly tragic ways in which love made fools of them. Ava herself does not reach the story of her own life until the middle of the book. When I encounter a novel like this, one that reaches far back into the ancestral well of despair, I usually grumble, sigh, and settle in for the ride, prepared to make the requisite investment in past lives and hoping the payoff at the end will be worth it. However, this was not the case. At all. I was as riveted by the three previous generations of Roux women as I was by Ava herself. Each character was so carefully recorded, each taking turns in the spot-light, that my heart was breaking alongside of theirs at every turn of the page.
2. Is this real life?
Magical realism--the straight-faced portrayal of events and circumstances so obviously otherworldly--is one of my favorite literary devices, and Walton folds magic into her prose so beautifully, I never question the little oddities that plague the Roux family.Read more ›
* warning sex and lots of violence, shot in the face leaving a ghost with no face, suicide, rape, brutal attack with a hatchet.
The ugly truth is: this book just didn't click with me.
And I wanted to like it! I really, really did! I'm utterly in love with the cover and the title. (Ava Lavender?! Isn't that just the most gorgeous name ever?!) It comes out in late March, but I read it on the 3rd of February because I was so excited for it.
Writing? Personally, I felt it was written like a very beautiful text book. History. There's hardly any scenes, hardly any dialogue. The first 120 pages are before Ava is even born! That's nearly HALF the book. It's not just about Ava Lavender (and this is where I get annoyed at the blurb, because it really tells you nothing about the book): it's about Ava's whole family history. Which is...interesting. But mildly boring.
I like scenes and dialogue and character-driven plots. This didn't have any of that.
It's all very tragic and beautiful though. I love the flow of the prose. It feels lyrical, definitely. The description really pops. They don't just say "cake" they say "butterscotch brownies". Every word feels well thought-out.
I was just so bored while I was appreciating the gorgeousness.
The names are fabulous! Some authors are just blessed with the ability to give the best names. Not only do we have Ava Lavender, we have Laura Lovelorn, Cardigan Cooper, Marigold Pie, Beauregard Roux, Viviane Lavender (that's Ava's mother) and Emilienne Roux. I lovelovelove it.Read more ›
I've read a couple of times magical-realism but wasn't expecting to find it in a Young Adult book. I really didn't know what to expect from Ava, a sixteen-year old girl born with wings, sometimes mistaken for an angel.
The book starts with Ava's grandmother, the story about her parents and brothers, and how everything in the end is connected to Ava. Their family story and writing reminded me of One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, definitely a plus for me.
I was hooked since the beginning, Ava's grandmother and mother both had a difficult life as consequence to foolish love. But Ava was a great girl, not only for having wings, but for her way to see life. Her family have been always the 'weird', but she's ready to face the world, very naive and not expecting her life to be so tragic.
Love. Ah. It's about love, but I wouldn't call it a romance book. It's realistic love, not happily ever after love, and more than narrating a romance, it's about how some relationships turn out being very sad and affect the lives of everyone around.
It may not be a book for everyone, it's not superficial or trivial, but I absolutely loved it! (although it broke my heart a couple of times). It only took me a few hours to read it, but who needs sleep right?. I definitely recommend it! Excellent addition to the YA literature.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This has become one of my new favorites. It was beautifully written and just strange enough to keep you intrigued, but not so strange as to be alienating. Loved it!Published 3 days ago by Brandi S
The book started out super slow for me. But probably because I was confused as to why it was not about Ava and then it all made sense and the story turned out to be really good and... Read morePublished 8 days ago by Olivia
I felt as if I were reading a full length novel written by the Brothers Grimm or Hans Christian Andersen. The writing style was beautiful, expressive, and so unique. Read morePublished 16 days ago by F. Flores
This may have been one of the most beautiful, and beautifully written, stories that I've read in a long time. Read morePublished 18 days ago by Ellen
I've already read this book twice, it's just amazingly well written, with a bittersweet story that warms and aches your heart. This book is heavenPublished 20 days ago by Jefther Elías De Los Santos Polanco
Exquisitely written. Faxsinating, haunting, heart-wrenching, and ultimately healing story.Published 23 days ago by A.E. Gronvold
The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender dances with strange and bursts with beauty--even as sorrow stalks the story's edges and the characters' hearts. Read morePublished 24 days ago by Shannon
The moment Ava Lavender was born, her wet wings ready to dry and unfold, I was hooked.
Magical realism isn't for everyone (as the reviews on Amazon show), but I love the... Read more
One of the most beautifully written pieces of literature I've read in my life. The progression throughout the generations of Ava's ancestors was unexpected and refreshingly... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Nick K