Book recommendation: “The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender” by Leslye Walton

I was in town with friends, we were trying to find something in a bookshop and getting distracted by the YA section. I pulled this book off the shelf because the cover was so lovely (no, I would never buy a book on that basis! What are you accusing me of…?) and one of my friends said she’d read it and it was pretty but Ava Lavenderheartbreaking. So, naturally, I bought it.

“Pretty but heartbreaking” is a very accurate description. The book follows the story of Ava’s family, starting with her grandparents, and is beautifully told, with the most lovely, delicate details. It also overflows with magic realism – meaning, on page 14, one of the characters turns into a bird, no explanation offered, simple as that. The story features (among other things) a red cloche hat, a blue house, chocolate cake, and a great many broken hearts.

Also lots of feathers. Ava herself is born with wings.

However, it does get dark. The most upsetting incident is treated with the distress it deserves – probably more than it would get if it happened in real life – but the story’s dark nonetheless. Be prepared.

This was one of my first encounters with a story like it, and I loved it. Ava Lavender is one of my favourite books of the year.

Favourite quote: “Love makes us such fools.” (Thumbs up for the context it’s used in at the very end.)

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