The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
“Are you a bird, an angel, or what?”
…I didn’t have the answer. I certainly wasn’t a bird, as far as I could tell. But in the same breath, I couldn’t say I was human. What did it mean to be human anyway? I knew I was different, but didn’t that make me as human as anyone, or was I something else? I didn’t know. And at only eight years old, I hadn’t the time, the energy, or the mental capacity to form a more adequate response than “I think I’m just a girl.” Which is what I said (128).
I had been reading another book, but felt an uncomfortable voyeuristic gnawing in my gut as I read. I didn’t care for the characters and the way they lived.
So I picked up this enchanting book.
Ava’s story begins in Manhattan generations earlier with her great-grandparents and their very unique children, Ava’s grandmother and her sisters and brother. Before her own mother arrives, Ava’s grandmother moves to Seattle, where the rest of the story plays out.
This is a very human fairy tale, strange and beautiful indeed, with odd and exceptional characters doing curiously interesting things. Despite the hardships the unusual must endure, they love – and seek and reject love. Like the rest of us, ordinary as we may be, they pursue meaning purpose and connection despite their remarkable abilities and circumstances.
The novel could have benefited from one more solid editorial pass, but stands as an extraordinary first novel. I look forward to Leslye Walton’s next book.