Morris Finalist Blog Tour: Review – THE STRANGE AND BEAUTIFUL SORROWS OF AVA LAVENDER by Leslye Walton
Jan 29th, 2015 by Liza Wiemer

The 2015 finalists for the YALSA William C Morris Debut Award:

  • “The Carnival at Bray” written by Jessie Ann Foley, published by Elephant Rock Books (http://www.elephantrockbooks.com/). In 1993, the grunge movement is at its height and Maggie Lynch is living comfortably in Chicago, near Nanny Ei and Uncle Kevin, her musical guru. After her impulsive mother marries and moves the family to a tiny Irish village, Maggie struggles to adjust to the changing world around her.
  • “The Story of Owen: Dragon Slayer of Trondheim” written by E.K. Johnston, published by Carolrhoda Lab™, an imprint of Carolrhoda Books, a division of Lerner Publishing Group (https://www.lernerbooks.com/carolrhodalab/). Owen is training to be a dragon slayer, a crucial job in a world where dragons bring death and destruction. With help from their friends and family, Owen and his bard Siobhan seek the source of a growing dragon threat.
  • “Gabi, a Girl in Pieces” written by Isabel Quintero, published by Cinco Puntos Press (www.cincopuntos.com). Aspiring poet Gabi Hernandez is having a complicated senior year: One of her best friends is pregnant, and the other just came out. Even as her mother worries that she will become a “bad” girl, Gabi adds romance and the quest for college to her already full plate.
  • “The Scar Boys” written by Len Vlahos, published by Egmont Publishing (http://egmontusa.com/). In a college admission essay, Harry Jones reveals the physical and psychological scars of his childhood and the solace and self-confidence he found in friendship and punk music.
  • “The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender” written by Leslye Walton, published by Candlewick Press (http://www.candlewick.com/). Born with a pair of wings, sixteen-year-old Ava Lavender inherits a rich family history and a legacy of heartbreak. After a young man becomes convinced she is an angel, can Ava survive his obsession intact?



by Leslye Walton

Published by Candlewick

Buy it here: Audible | IndieBound | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Connect wit the author: Goodreads | Twitter | Website


From 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.

My review:

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

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender is magical realism, one of perhaps two I have read in a list of over 600 books since 2010. In other words, I haven’t read a lot of novels in this genre. It was strange and different and enthralling. I definitely was pulled into the story of Ava Lavender, a winged girl born to a “odd” family. Walton does a great job giving readers a family history, filled with wondrous occurrences and plagued with sadness.

There are many metaphors and life lessons to be extracted from this novel. One of which is to accept or embrace your uniqueness. Love and the perils of love is another theme—choose wisely to whom you give your heart.

Ava’s family history and ghosts.
Henry, Ava’s non-winged twin.
The bakery.

I deeply appreciated the opportunity to suspend logic and go for this ride in magical realism. Ava was a remarkable character and I was able to visualize what she would have looked like with her useless wings. The bakery scenes with the textures and scents had me drooling. What an imagination Leslye Walton has! The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender is a wonderful challenge for readers who want something different, something out of the ordinary. Mythical, magical, wondrous, unique.

Thank you so much, Candlewick, for the ARC!

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