Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Book Report: The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender

 The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender
The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton
My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

To be perfectly honest, this book was one I got only after I couldn't get one that I actually wanted.  I had low expectations before and after reading the synopsis and fully expected it to be a mediocre read, one I would forget about soon after I had finished.  It pleases me to say, however, that my low expectations were easily met and surpassed as this book quickly became one of my all time favorites.

The book is narrated by Ava Lavender, a girl born in 1944 with wings like a bird.  Aside from the wings, Ava is a completely normal girl.  Ava starts the book by telling of her grandmother's story, starting when she was a little girl and finishing when she was a young mother.  Next, Ava proceeds to tell her mother's story before she finally reaches her own.  As far as a plot beyond that I can't say much.  There is no single conflict with rising and falling action.  There is no set goal a character is working toward throughout the entire book.  There is no mold that the events of this book could fit into.  Despite all this, the story line still manages to draw you in and keep you enticed until the very end.

Rather than base the book on a set plot, the book relies heavily on recurring themes. Themes like love, loss, pain, and sorrow that are intricately woven throughout the story.  This book has been categorized as "magical realism" which fits the story perfectly. It takes place in the same world we live in with the same natural laws and everything.  The magic and seemingly impossible portions of this book were presented in such a casual way that I accepted most of them without thought, which gave the book an overall more true and organic feel. This isn't to say that most of said magical portions weren't totally weird. They were. They definitely were. But rather than being weird to the point where you either put the book down or started treating it like a comedy, the magical weirdness added to the beauty of the book and gave you a new appreciation for the writing. 

I can't say enough good things about the writing of this book.  It was absolutely stunning.  The poetic feel of this book introduced you to new settings and characters in such a lyrical and flowing way that you couldn't help but slip into the story.  The places of the story, whether it be the house at the end of Pinnacle Lane or the little French bakery, were presented with such fantastic imagery that I feel like I know exactly what each one looks like; I feel like I've been there myself.  The characters were so real and raw I felt I knew them personally.  Each one was new and different with their own unique back story that enabled you to delve deeper into their character and increase your understanding.

Ultimately, I absolutely loved this book. It was beautiful yet slightly haunting and even now that I've finished it I can't get it out of my head.  Leslye Walton's debut novel will not disappoint, and I would recommend it to just about everyone.

Sherman Jefferson 

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