The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender – Lesley Walton

strange sorrowsAva Lavender is born with wings. Ava tells her story by recounting the series of tragedies that befell her relatives beginning with her French great-grandparents’ immigration to the tenements of New York. Tragic events fueled by broken hearts are written in such a matter-of-fact tone that I was spellbound over the eloquence of the writing while reading about the sorrows. It is not that the observer/storyteller is dispassionate because the emotional devastation is clearly shown in the characters’ reactions; it is more along the lines of accepting fate. The main characters and supporting players are all well developed and intriguing so that each has their own story that could be further told. I want to know more about steadfast Gabe who loves Viviane and her unique children, Ava and Henry. He just takes in stride that Ava has wings and Henry is autistic.  The minor characters that pop in and out of the story each have their part to play and it is so well orchestrated that nothing feels forced. I first thought a book about a girl with wings was just right for middle school, but no. This is certainly not for tweens but for older teens. It is the most unique and mesmerizing story that I’ve read this year and I will eagerly read the next book this debut novelist writes. Highly recommend.

NetGalley review    Publication date 3.25.14

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