Last week, I participated in the “Good Reads in the Garden” panel at the library. I had a few of my favourite adults picks, but as the only Children’s Librarian on the panel, I knew I had to throw in a few YA titles that I thought would appeal to some of our adult readers. I inevitably mentioned Code Name Verity (I don’t think I will ever stop pointing out that book), but I also had to include a new YA novel that had completely surprised me (in a good way!). That novel is The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton.
This book took me by surprise. I didn’t know what to expect when I picked it up, but it intrigued me, so I had to give it a try. The story is told by Ava Lavender, a strange young girl who was born with wings. She recounts the tale of the women in her family, all of whom have been unlucky in love and plagued by tragedy and sorrow. Ava herself has lived a mostly isolated life, protected from the world at large by her mother, who fears what the public will do to the young winged child. The novel goes back and forth between Ava’s story, and the stories of the women in her family.
This is a really beautiful novel. It’s lyrical and readable. I was captivated by the story, and I didn’t want to stop reading. Unfortunately, it’s quite a short book, so the journey was over before I even knew it, but perhaps that’s just because the book was such a great read. Walton’s novel is an example of magic realism, where strange and magical things happen in a world that is entirely realistic (for example, a girl born with wings).
I encourage you to give this novel a chance, because it is a wonderful reading experience, by which I mean it’s a fascinating story that’s easy to read and beautifully written.