Reader Reviewed The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender

Written by Leslye Walton

13+ readers   Debuts of the Month   YA readers   
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The Lovereading4Kids comment

Shortlisted for the Waterstone's Best Fiction for Teens Award 2015 - April 2014 Debut of the Month *** Suitable for 15+ as some explicit content An enormous family saga unfolds in this story shot through with magic that is helped on its way by lashing of luck – both good and bad – and a great many extraordinary and truly unexpected happenings. Ava Lavender, a girl born with wings which cannot be explained or hidden, charts the history of her family from its origins in nineteenth century France to poverty in Manhattan before a long, long journey to Seattle and a new start for a new generation – all before Ava is even born. Although Ava is the most unusual of her family there are many others who will surprise and entertain before the story is fully unravelled.

reader reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion for The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender a small number of readers were lucky enough to be invited to review this title. Here's a taster...'this book is gorgeously written, surprisingly thrilling and overall an exciting and mesmerizing read.' Emer O'Brien.

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The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

This is a mesmerizing, lyrical tale of the bright and dark sides of love and desire. Foolish love appears to be a Roux family birthright. And for Ava Lavender, a girl born with the wings of a bird, it is an ominous thing to inherit. In her quest to understand her peculiar disposition and a growing desire to join her peers, sixteen-year-old Ava ventures into the wider world. But it is a dangerous world for a naive girl - a world which may view her as girl or angel. On the night of the summer solstice celebration, the skies open up, rain and feathers fill the air and Ava's journey and her family's saga reaches 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. It is a stunning literary young adult novel, won at auction, which marks the debut of Leslye Walton. The magical realism weaves through this generational saga which is reminiscent of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It is a sensuous tale of a girl born with wings, with a taste of Chocolate and the shadow play of a Tim Burton film. It is a book about human love: its ability to destroy, corrode, and mutilate, its ability to ennoble, heal, and transform. It is a beautiful jacketed hardback edition.


Teens love to read and so a small number of members were lucky enough to be invited to review The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender. You can read their reviews below.

Emer O'Brien, age 16 - 'This book contains brilliantly written, beautiful storylines, all collected together like a book of pressed flowers, albeit slightly macabre ones...this book is gorgeously written, surprisingly thrilling and overall an exciting and mesmerizing read.' Click Here to read the full review.

Alice Horncastle, age 14 - 'The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender really hooked me to another world, where anything can happen! The hugely complicated plot unfolded in such a simple yet attention grabbing way, fab!' Click Here to read the full review.

Millie Windeler, age 15 - 'This book is exceedingly well written and an immaculately thought out story...It is a must have book for when you are looking for something a bit different.' Click Here to read the full review.

Ciara McIlvenna, age 16 - 'A haunting yet beautiful tale of both the darkest desires and selfless sacrifices that love can cause us to make. A divine masterpiece. Walton has captured human emotion so purely in this novel.' Click Here to read the full review.

Isobel Read, age 13 - 'The characters are now etched on my heart as this story went from climax to climax , making me cry many times along the way.' Click Here to read the full review.

Aimee Sweet, age 13 - 'I knew this book was going to be good as soon as I turned the first page...I give this book, without any hesitation, a five star.' Click Here to read the full review.

Rose Heathcote, age 14 - 'This book failed to grip me from the beginning but once in I started to enjoy the story but it was difficult to follow in parts.' Click Here to read the full review.

About the Author

Leslye Walton

Leslye Walt on was born in the Pacific Northwest. Perhaps because of this, the author has developed a strange kinship with the daffodil – she too can only achieve beauty after a long, cold sulk in the rain. Her debut novel, The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, was inspired by a particularly long sulk in a particularly cold rainstorm spent pondering the logic, or rather, lack thereof, in love – the ways we coax ourselves to love, to continue loving, to leave love behind.

Leslye Walton has an MA in Writing and lives in Seattle. When she’s not writing, she teaches
middle-school students how to read and write and, most important, how to be kind to one another, even on days when they don’t really feel like it. She is currently working on her next novel.

Q&A with Leslye Walton

Please describe The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender in ten words or less. Love can make us such fools.

Describe the writing process for the novel. How long did this book take to fully form? What is your writing process like as an author? This novel was a learning process. I was in grad school at the time, earning an MA in Writing from
Portland State University. Though I’d written short stories before, I had no idea how to write a long piece of fiction, and the plot developed as I wrote. I lived and breathed this novel, these characters, for two years. It consumed my life, but again, I was spending as much time learning how to write as I did actually writing. My stories are always very character-driven. For me, the writing process starts with getting to know the characters. I need to understand them, who they are, and what they care about before I can begin to formulate the plot. And usually it’s the characters themselves who tell me where the story is going to go, and not the other way around.

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender is a debut novel. What does it feel like now that the book is being published? It feels surreal. I was driving to work when I got the call from my agent telling me we’d sold the book. I pulled over and had my first phone conference with my editor in an alleyway behind a car dealership. I kept looking around, thinking, Is this really happening? But as surreal as this whole experience has been, I’m also a teacher – I teach middle-school language arts – and my students are very good at keeping me grounded.

What are your hopes for the book, and what do you hope readers take away from it? I hope it means something. Although that might not sound very original – don’t we all hope the things we create will mean something?– it still remains true. I bought my favourite book, How to Make an American Quilt by Whitney Otto, at a book fair when I was fourteen. That book sat on my bedside table throughout high school. I brought it with me to college and then later to grad school. The binding of the book is torn, and the pages are yellowed. I can speak some of the lines from that novel as naturally as if the words had derived from my own head. I’d love for Ava Lavender to mean that to a reader. I hope that it speaks some kind of truth for someone – that it makes someone feel less alone, or more alive. I want readers to fall in love with
Ava. I want them to love her like I do.

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Book Info


320 pages
Interest Age: From 14


Leslye Walton
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Walker Books Ltd

Publication date

27th March 2014




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