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

The-Strange-and-Beautiful-Sorrows-of-Ava-Lavender-Leslye-Walton-e1393904291313Magical 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 naive 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.

PUBLISHER: Candlewick

PAGES: 320


I was given this book from a local bookstore and that does not influence my review in any way, shape, or form.

I feel like I’m on an island of my own opinion with this review. But, so be it.


R: Cussing, sexual innuendo, a rape scene, sex, etc.


Leslye Walton has a writing style unlike any other author that I have ever read. Her writing flows effortlessly, causing the reader to fall in a sort of trance. Her story is, for the most part, realistic (besides the whole girl-with-wings portion of the story), but the prose is so lofty and fantastical that the reader can’t help wondering if they’re reading something in the fantasy genre. Her characters’ stories are hauntingly beautiful. She’s truly very, very gifted and this is only her debut novel! Walton has a bright future ahead, indeed. It was fun to see that Walton had set the story of Ava and her ancestors in Seattle, Washington (Oh, how I wish Pinnacle Lane was a real street) because the PNW is simply lovely.  Also, the cover of this novel is gorgeous. I sort of want to marry it. Just saying. Judge me.


Maybe I didn’t quite read the title before I embarked on the task of reading this novel. Obviously, it’s about the strange and beautiful sorrows of Ava Lavender. I’d like to capitalize on the word sorrows. It’s a deeply saddening novel (in my personal opinion) and a lot darker than what I expected. This book is not for children and I’d even say that many of the themes of this book are not for young adults, either. This book deals with many weighty sexual matters. I’m not saying that Leslye Walton didn’t deal with these issues well; I was just surprised by the content of this book and how serious the sorrows of Ava Lavender actually ended up being. Also, this book was a very slow read for me. The first half of the book doesn’t even deal with Ava Lavender, but with her various ancestors and their love interests, business pursuits, etc. While I sometimes found myself laughing out loud at the quirky nature of Walton’s unique characters, the first half barely held my attention for more than a few pages at a time. I read a review on Amazon where someone said, “I felt it was written like a very beautiful text book.” I have to completely agree with this Amazon reviewer! There were so many names for me to keep track of and so much history before I even reached the birth of Ava Lavender. The title is a bit misleading in that respect.


To match the darker aspects of this novel, I think Brother & Bones’ Lost As One really fits. There’s a sad, yet hopeful feel to this song that echoes Walton’s characters and their stories.


Although I’m on an island of my own with this one, I’d have to give this novel a 2/5 heart rating. This does not reflect on the writer, nor does it reflect on the characters. Personally, I found it boring. But, that doesn’t mean that another person would feel the same way. I just couldn’t get into the story and had a hard time reading it. It just wasn’t my cup of tea! Also, the darker elements of Walton’s story took me by surprise and contributed to my final thoughts about this novel.


2 thoughts on “Review: The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

    1. Ah, it’s so good to hear that there are others! I sort of question my literary taste when I don’t like a book everyone else likes. And thank you so much(: Your blog is so lovely!


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