Friday, April 18, 2014

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender - Leslye Walton


Goodreads:  Magical 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 naïve 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.


"The Roux children were so accustomed to their neighbors' voices permeating the thin walls that each child could eventually speak several languages - all four in French and English, Emilienne in Italian, René in Dutch and German, and Margaux in Spanish.  The Youngest, Pierette, only spoke in what was later identified as Greek until her seventh birthday, when in perfect French she declared, "Mon dieu! Oú est mon gâteau? My God, where is my cake?" Which made them all suspect that Pierette had many tricks up her sleeves."

"But it was the cake their guests remembered - the vanilla custard filling, the buttercream finish, the slight taste of raspberries that had surely been added to the batter. No one brought home any slices of leftover cake to place under their pillow, hoping to dream of their future mate; instead, the guests of Ignatius Lux and Estella Margolis ate the whole cake and then had dreams of eating it again.  After this wedding unmarried women woke in the night with tears in their eyes, not because they were alone, but because there wasn't any cake left."


Wow. How do I even begin to describe why I loved this book?  I honestly don't know.  It's just  You know what I mean?  I think it's a problem I often come across when trying to describe a book that's magic realism...and surprise, surprise this one is too.  There's something about the way authors write in this genre that's just...AGH.   I don't know how to describe it!  I mean it was beautiful.   It's absurd and horribly morbid...and you know, it kind of reminds me of the humour you find in Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events at times.  This is my favourite genre, and I have just had the BEST luck with magic realism.  I honestly can't think of a single book in this genre that I didn't like. (Which is probably why it's my favourite genre, it's all been good so far).

I love this writing style. This isn't going to be for people who need more of an action based plot. There is a plot, but it is uncovered more through a meandering character growth that adds suspense and makes it a plot. I happen to love stories like this.  I think I also loved that it was so female-centric.  You've got three generations of women whose stories are told within this book, and they're all kind of tragic in that funny morbid way.  Which sounds completely nonsensical I know, but if you read the book you will TOTALLY get what I mean.  There's just so much in here - yes, there's a plot and plenty of suspense that's ratcheted up even as we learn about things that are generations removed from THE EVENT everything leads up to.  You get musings on loss and love  I really have the hardest time trying to describe books that aren't all actiony and flaily because I can't seem to find the right words.  It was a beautiful story, it was written so well (and you know how swoony I get over prose).  I'm going to stop trying to describe it.  Instead, I wholly recommend both Nafiza's and Christina's reviews, who has captured my feelings on the book more clearly than I have been able to (hence my giving up and searching their reviews haha).  Not everything was great about this book, but I can't mention anything because of spoilers, and honestly in the whole context of this book I just don't care.  I am absolutely going to buy Leslye Walton's next book, and you should too.  After you buy this one of course.  And since I loved this so much and have been unable to describe how I these reviews too.  I feel like a lazy not-reviewer for referencing every one else's reviews, but I just...I can't even name half the emotions running through me right now just THINKING about this book

And in the interest of what I thought while reading this...because I seriously want to reread it to process everything. And it's definitely good enough for a reread.  Serious spoilers below!! Also if you're a terrible person like me who usually reads the last couple pages before I finish the book (HUSH DON'T JUDGE ME)....really don't.  Don't do it.  Luckily this was an ebook which stops this habit in it's tracks for me so I didn't but...yeah.  Don't do that. (Actually I am probably the only person who does that haha)

Nathaniel Sorrows creeps me out. Is he going to rape her? And that pillow bit? GROSS.  

Oh God. I knew it was going to be bad, but not that bad...I can't...I feel a bit sick. And horrified. 

Ugh I wanted that situation to be less terrible.  And I'm irritated by the rape for some reason - I knew it was going to happen, so it's not like it was a surprise.  I think this is like the third book in a row that I've read with rape in it though, so I'm just seriously not in the mood.  And Nathaniel Sorrows is really...well everyone's tragedies somehow have a sort of distance to them, so I guess the distance here is in his character development?  Because this was seriously one of the most brutal things I've ever read.  AND I read it on an airplane. (WHY?! I KNOW better than to do that!)

Holy...what?! Why?! Why do this to me in the last few pages?? God. I didn't see that coming. I CAN'T HANDLE LIFE ANYMORE.  Am I wrong? Did I misunderstand?  Ava was going to be happy! She had someone she loved, and he loved her back! She wasn't going to deny herself for decades. I wanted just ONE HEA!  No one else mentioned this in their reviews (then again, it's also like literally the last two pages.)  I am seriously going to troll Goodreads now.  I'm wrong right?  I MUST BE WRONG.  I mean it's narrated by an older Ava, right? RIGHT?



If you like magical realism, you NEED to read this.  If you love beautiful prose, you need to read this.  If you love character development (and some seriously odd characters) read this.  If you need action packed plots, this probably isn't for you.


  1. Oh, sounds fantastic! I have a copy of this book but with my overflowing books-to-review, I just couldn't find the time to read my own copies. But I definitely will make time for this, hopefully soon. :D

  2. Yeah, if magic realism is your thing at all, I couldn't recommend this more!

  3. I love magical realism, so I'm headed over to Goodreads to add this to my TBR list. I promise I'll watch The Coffee Shop Princess!!! I love Boys Over Flowers because it does open up dialogue between me and my sixteen year old about what is and is not appropriate in friendships and romantic relationships. My older daughter prefers the Japanese version Hana Yuri Dango because she thinks it's "sweeter." If you can think of any other K-dramas to recommend let me know!!!


  4. kirstymariejonesstudioreadsApril 21, 2014 at 12:37 PM

    (I haven't read the spoilers, because I do plan on actually reading this) but I totally look at the last few pages first too, it's a problem, and when it doesn't end the way I want it to I just kind of don't want to read the book then, not the poor books fault. But I've been good at that lately (especially the ones I have to review) so thanks for the warning, I will not do that. Will. Not. (You know I probably still will, right?) I've read both good and bad reviews for it but the common ground seems to be how beautiful the writing is (and by those quotes- they're right) I kind of like more of a plot, but I don't exactly hate these type of ones either. I guess it depends on what kind of mood I'm in. Here's to hoping! :D

  5. Yeah, this is definitely at the top of my list of favourite magic realism books!

    You know, I'd never thought of using it that way - it's brilliant! I somehow got sucked into the story (I think it was the anime. Rui's theme is the Adagietto from Mahler 5 which is one of the most beautiful things ever written), it's totally addicting. I really abhor the relationships, but it's also not all bad.

    I'm currently watching Secret Garden which has some of the funniest moments I've ever sat through! I'd definitely recommend it, it's already got some twists on what I expect in Asian dramas, especially as the leading lady is a stuntwoman. I already know I'm shipping the wrong characters together, so that's going to make me sad, but it's great in the meantime. Finding Mr. Destiny was a really great romantic film that stars Gong Yoo and Lim Soo-Jung, who are both fantastic. It's lighthearted and the scenes are gorgeous (India!!), and the relationships are very different from what you find in Hana Yori Dango.

    But my all time favourites are definitely Coffee Prince and Castaway on the Moon. Castaway on the Moon is actually a movie, not a drama, but I could not recommend a movie more highly. It's in my top 10 favourite films of all time. It's got some of the best acting I've seen ever. It's hilarious and heart wrenching at moments (although overall a happy movie)...and it's so impressive because there's only two actors in the entire film, and they don't interact until the very end. And they both totally nail it. I can't imagine how difficult it must be to carry so many scenes entirely by yourself while pulling out all those different emotions. So yeah. Watch these two things haha (this got sooooo long sorry!)

  6. I'm not the only one!!! This totally makes me feel better hahaha! I'm so lucky this was an ebook I was reading so that I didn't do that (ebooks have really been improving this all around - I haven't read the endings to like the last 5 books I've read! Until this year I don't think I could say there was more than a couple books I've ever read that I didn't read the ending before I got there haha. Even my nonreading friends are apalled by that!) Yeah wait until you are in the right mood because I sooooorta want you to love it. And also to finish it so we can talk about....things I can't even hint about haha


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