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


The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Received: borrowed
Genres & themes: YA, family, friendship, love, angel, mystery, magical realism.

BLURB:

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.

REVIEW:

description

This book was original, well-written and had some memorable characters but there were unfortunately some flaws in my opinion.

Ava Lavender, a beautiful girl possessing wings and main character, doesn’t even really appear in the plot before its 50% (on average.) That is one of the small problems I had with this book since I got tired of hearing about Ava’s ancestors and mother’ stories. It was interesting, captivating and intriguing at first but then it felt too much and I wanted more. Wanted Ava.

Second, in this book there are many tragedies which I thought brought a unique atmosphere to the story and made some characters and situations feel even more realistic, which is a funny thing to say since The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender is a magical realism themed book and there are many oh so many things in this book that could never oh so never happen in reality.

Another little thing that made me lower my rating was the fact that I was waiting for a tragically, beautiful, angsty and swoon-worthy love story when what I got was in fact a can-be-predicted, ordinary, could-happen-to-everyone love story for Ava, her mother and her ancestors’ characters since we’re at it.

The writing is very pretty and impressive I shall say. I found the dialogs perfect and, even though there weren’t many, I wouldn’t change a thing in there.

There are many characters in this story that you’ll love and then hate or that you’ll HATE and then love. Some can disappoint you, when others can surprise the hell out of you. You’re in it for a treat, if that’s what you’re looking for. Personally, there were some characters I wished didn’t change when that’s what they did and there were others I wished didn’t listen to their head but their heart instead and vice versa.

I can see why so many people loved this book. It’s (the plot) like a breath of fresh air on a hot summer day; riveting.

You also need to know that the pacing is slow and many descriptions are present (due, we can say, the low amount of dialogs.)

The final problem I had regarding this book is that, even though the story is mainly set in the 50s, I didn’t exactly feel it as I may have been supposed to. I didn’t quite feel the historical part of this novel and even often forgot about it. The way they talked sometimes gave clues, but other times it didn’t.

Finally, this IS a book I think many people would like because, like I said, it’s refreshing in a way and beautifully written which, of course, is always a good thing. If you like magical realism themed books, I would also recommend The Night Circus which I loved.

View all my reviews on Goodreads.

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

  1. I have heard enough not so great things about this one that I had already decided I didn’t want to read it but…I am super curious about it even now. I sorry not everything worked for you in this but I am happy that you thought it was original. That can be really hard to find in this genre.

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  2. I don’t read many books set in earlier periods, like the 50s like this one was. Sad to hear that the historical part didn’t fit, didn’t feel natural. I was really curious about this one, but had my reservations about reading it. I don’t think I will pick it up.

    Thanks for you honest review!

    And thanks for the follow!! 🙂

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  3. Hmm – I haven’t actually seen any reviews for this one, but I have a feeling that I wouldn’t make it far. I’m a character driven reader and if the MC isn’t really showing up substantially until the halfway point, I’d be frustrated. I’m more likely to push through a book if the plot is only ok for the first 50% – but it sounds like this is more plot driven. Oh well, I think I’ll pass, but excellent review 🙂

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    • I was frustrated too!! Ah but at least it was interesting. 😛 It was good but it got a bit boring since I wanted the MC. She was narrating the story but without being in the story. Really not a book for everyone though. Thank you, Berls! 😀

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  4. What? It’s weird that the MC isn’t there until that far along into the book O___O LOL! Magical realism. I still don’t exactly know how to define it. I’m glad it felt realistic to you though. Oh no! I’m sorry the love story fell so flat for you 😦 So you changed from love to hate pretty often, eh? I actually love that and my review today has somewhat the same thing mentioned in one paragraph. I don’t mind slow pace, but I do mind a ton of description which bores me to no end so that may be a problem for me. So you think the setting should have been more.. present, may I say? I want to try TNC, but I’m not sure that this particular book is for me. I think I’ll try TNC first 🙂 Great review, Lola!

    Liked by 1 person

    • So so weird!! It was original and I did enjoy it for a while but then I got bored and wanted her to BE in the story. Tons of desriptions can be annoying yeah and there were some that you’re like why is she talking about that?? you know. Yes the setting, world building should have been more developped and I needed to feel like they were in the 50s! I loved TBC, it was a great story. Didn’t REALLY like the romance in that one either but guess I’m just hardly impressed now. Thank you, Siiri! 😀

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  5. It sounds like this one was a tricky one for you, and while i am intersting in it i will remember to be a little but more careful going into it! I do love magical realism books so this one is right up my alley! I wish you could have enjoyed it more! Great review!

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    • I do find interesting magical realism. I’m just so new to it! The (I think) only other MR I read in my life is The Night Circus and really liked it though this one is…different. Thank you and I hope you’ll enjoy it, Lily! 🙂

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  6. Yeah, again, I have to be in the right mood for magical realism. It really can get so weird, LOL. I mean, sometimes it’s awesome and smart and I love it, but other times . . . it’s really easy for magical realism to be trying to hard, or to try and complicate/make more meaningful topics or situations that are completely mundane. I have high hopes for this one though . . . but it could just be the pretty cover (<—–cover whore). Great review, Lola!

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    • Haha, actually I first thought the cover was ordinary but then looked closer and saw why everyone loves it. ^^ YES, be in the right mood for this one coz it is weird but the fun weird type!! I REALLY hope you’ll like it Jess. Thank you! ❤

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  7. Hmm… I dislike it when a book has an equal amount of pros & cons, although it does make it easier to review. I’m a sucker for beautiful writing though, so I’ll probably give this one a go even though you only rated it 3 stars. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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    • It does make it easier though you can also choose to be more on the negative or positive side and that I don’t like lol. Pretty writing there is in this book so you’ll like it. ^^ You know, 3 stars is a good rating since I ”liked it.” I did start with ”love it” but then for reasons didn’t ”love it” anymore. 😛 Thank you, hope you’ll enjoy it!

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  8. Oh this doesn’t sound like a book for me, but I love the cover! I find I can’t get into things if the main character is just not involved at the beginning 😦

    But on the plus side, I loved The Night Circus (and just the thought of it makes me want to read it again lol)

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    • It was the first book I read with that fact. She was narrating the story but not in it. Weird —-> magical realism as a friend says. ^^ Ooh, I’m glad you liked that book. Thought it was fantastic! Maybe you will like this one then.

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  9. “You also need to know that the pacing is slow and many descriptions are present (due, we can say, the low amount of dialogs.)”

    I tend to struggle with books like that Lola, I’m always drawn to books that have a lot of dialog and banter between characters so I can get a feel for their personalities and feel involved in their lives. I always feel a bit outside-looking-in when there’s more description than dialog. Still, there are obviously some truly beautiful aspects of this story so I’m glad you found some things you really enjoyed about it:)

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  10. I do like magical realism themed books, and have heard many wonderful reviews about this story, but I’m not sure the late show of Ava and the so-so romance. Thanks for the wonderful and thoughtful review, Lola 🙂

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    • The late show is not good. Definitely. Although, the story was intriguing and interesting until its 30% so I guess I only struggled some 60 pages (still a lot.) Thank you and I do hope you’ll give it a try maybe since there are wonderful elements in it, Kim. 🙂

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  11. In all honesty, this just doesn’t sound like a book I could get into. I enjoyed all the pros and cons you listened, but I’m not a fan of books set in early eras or, better yet, it’s hard for me to get into a book set in an era like the 50s. “feel the historical part …” That is a bit sad, but I understand that.

    Lovely review and thank you for your honesty!

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  12. Angel books are really hit or miss for me. Either things just feel too cheesy, or the mythology doesn’t sit well with me, or it’s so awesome I can’t get enough of it… I’m not sure this one would work for me, but thank you for your great review!
    Happy reading, Lola 🙂

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  13. I’m sorry you didn’t love it, but I’m glad you enjoyed it! The story is very angsty, but it fits well. At least for me it did. Great review, Lola! The dialogs were my favorite parts of the novel, but I did really love the description of Ava’s grandmother’s family tragedies.

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  14. Oooh, this is interesting. So many of the reviews for this book that I’ve read have mainly been raving about it. But at least you and they have said something in common – the plot is unique AND the writing is lyrical and beautiful. I mainly want to see those to be honest, and could really care less for the romance (it’s NOT the main factor, is it? If it is, cue sad puppy eyes).

    Faye at The Social Potato

    Liked by 1 person

    • I saw so many rave reviews on this one as well so decided to see for myself and it WAS a good read and yes unique indeed. Mmmh, I would say the romance is one of the main factors for sure, yes. Sorry. 😦 It’s quuite present because there are tragedies regarding lovers some characters had so yeah. The romance may not be exciting but it’s not bad, just disappointing since I expected something else. Thank you for stopping by, Faye!

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  15. Wait the MC doesn’t appear before 50% of the story. That’s really weird. I have seen this one and I was really intrigued by it. But I think that I, like you, have different ideas about this one. I also expect tragic and beautifully written story and not an ordinary story. So I think I should skip this one. Great review 🙂

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    • It is weird. I was too, especially because of the rave reviews! It was tragic and beautiful, I said the romance was ordinary actually…so you will get your expectations fulfilled, except fot the romance part probably.
      Thank you. 🙂

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  16. I don’t know what to expect in this book. The narrative might not work on me but I love lovely writing and I think I’m up for a totally different read. It’s unfortunate that you didn’t get much of what you expected but I’m glad you still enjoyed the book. Lovely review, Lola! 🙂

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  17. Hmmm this is an interesting one. I’ve heard a lot of negative things about it so it’s probably just one of those kinds of stories for only some people, the narrative does sound gorgeous though, it’s a shame it had some flaws. Great review none the less!

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  18. So I borrowed this book from the library a week ago and the cover basically made me want to read it, haha. I’ve seen this all over the place, and that includes lists. I am a big fan of getting books that have been raved about on lists (especially the ones from GR) and when I saw this, I literally squealed the heck out of myself.

    I hate too much info-dumping and history. History in books always bores me, and not getting Ava because of it is probably going to disappoint me. 50% of the book? Oh no.

    Either way, I’m really looking forward to pick this beauty up. I’m always looking for something riveting and fresh, and this sounds just like it. 🙂 Thanks for a beautiful review!

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    • I LOVE GR lists haha! And, yeah, it was really everywhere and raved about on GR so that’s kinda why I picked it up! Well, for the historical part it shalln’t be that bad since I didn’t feel it that much but there are a lot of descriptions. YEAH, 50% true fact (or so.) I really hope you like it, Michelle!! Thank you! 🙂

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  19. I loved this one, Lola. Like, LOVED 😀 But yeah, I get what you’re saying about Ava not showing up on the first 50% of the book! But I guess I’m too in love with the writing to notice. Looks like you still liked it and I’m glad you gave it a try! 🙂

    Fantastic review, Lola!

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  20. Great review! I like how you balanced the good with the bad.

    I’ve had this book in my TBR pile for forever, because I picked it up to read the first few pages and I wasn’t exactly riveted yet. But I checked this book out because it was magical realism, so the strange things I think I would be ably to handle (have you read any Gabriel Garcia Marquez, per chance? This book is based off one of his short stories, A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings).

    But it’s sad to hear that Ava didm;t really show up till 50%! This could be an issue for me, since I have problems with weird pacing. And I was also disappointed to hear that the romance is nothing special, especially when the family seems to be known for it. But maybe a normal romance is what a decidedly not normal girl with wings needs?

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    • Thanks! 😀 I try to always do that but it can also depend on my mood I guess. 😉

      I didn’t read that short story and had NO idea it was based on it. So thanks for sharing that with me. It is sad, I wanted AVA!! Uneven pacing can not appeal to many readers and I kinda was included with those people. Maybe you’re reight, maybe that’s what she needed. BUT ha, she also kind of got something else…disappointment mostly…anyway, even you ever read the book, I would love to discuss it further with you! 🙂

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  21. I really enjoyed this one, but, like you, I had some issues. I also felt like the backstory in the beginning bogged the story down with way too much detail, and I was eager to get to Ava’s story. And I couldn’t help feeling like the romance could be better done as well. Yet it was beautifully written, and I don’t regret reading it. 😀 Lovely review!

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  22. I really liked this book but I do agree & like your review :). I wasn’t disappointed by the romance since someone told me not to expect a great love story. And yes there were so many things in this book that could NEVER EVER happen and I wanted a bit of explanation (like HOW did that girl turn into a canary :O ). I haven’t read the Night Circus yet-but I hear great things (plus the cover is REALLY pretty) so It’s going to happen soon 😉 .

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  23. I believe I’ve never heard anyone mention that this book is set in the 50’s! That would normally be something to lure me into it, but if, as you say, it’s not really noticable when reading the book, that’s kind of a wasted potential. I do like magical realism (and I also love The Night Circus!), but as I’ve mainly heard so-so reviews for this title, I think I’ll give it a pass. Which is a shame because it has a gorgeous cover!

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    • Well I’ve read so many rave reviews on it and it truly was beautiful. Nooo, don’t give it a pass. 😦 So many people liked it. Omg, I sound so pushy. Yeah, the 50’s thing wasn’t very noticeble but it’s not like we can say it was a contemporary either. 😉

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