The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton
★★★★☆ 4 Stars
I honestly didn't know what to expect from this book. I knew it was magical realism with a Young Adult label, which you really don't see often. The only other book series that comes to mind is The Raven Cycle, but I'm sure there are more. Magical Realism is one of my absolute favorite genres. Give me Haruki Murakami, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Sarah Addison Allen any day. This book is about Ava Lavender, but her story doesn't really start until over halfway through reading. Primarily, this is a generational fairy tale about a strange family plagued by sorrow and misfortune. The writing in this is impeccable, relatable, and absolutely gorgeous. It's very difficult to describe smells in books, but I could smell everything from the streets of Manhattan to the bread baking in the bakery to the rains of the seasons. The characters in this novel were (somehow) incredibly real and relatable (even the sister who turned into a canary).
One thing about this book that I struggled with was the sexual assault scene. I did not know it was going to happen before reading this book so it really rocked me. This isn't to say that I felt the scene was unnecessary or badly written, just that I wish I had known.
Would I recommend this book:
Absolutely, if you like prose. If you are someone who prefers plot-driven books, this one is not for you. If you like modern fairy tales, beautiful writing, the careful dance between love and despair, and winged girls, you'll love this one.