If I told you that Ava Lavender was a family history novel, you would probably turn away in disgust and look for a more exciting book, filled with action and adventure. What if I told you it was told in such an entertaining, gripping way that you wouldn’t be able to put it down? It includes the supernatural? People die in gruesome manners? Now do I have your attention?
To me, this book was the brain child of Walton and was an amazing idea: it’s inventive, imaginative and completely different to anything else I have ever read with hypnotic, lyrical prose and a gnawing in my stomach to keep turning the page. The characters were each to their own as it were; vivid, unique and completely 3D. Essentially, it contains the stories of Ava, her mother and her grandmother (there’s even a handy family tree in the front of it) and branches of their history (such as Ava’s brother or her grandmother’s loves). The stories are fascinating, new, and utterly gripping.
I seem to be using the same vocabulary over and over again. Maybe that tells you something.
The main story…well, as aforementioned, there wasn’t one: there was three. But you could so clearly tell they interlinked that it seemed as if there was only one overall. Other stories branched off, and although they didn’t always add to the plot, they always added to the story and enhanced it for the reader.
The awesome main character, Ava, was just cool in my book. She has wings, she is kept locked up but she is very intelligent. I thought she was the perfect persona for the novel and really enjoyed reading in her voice. However, this MC did raise a few unanswered questions, the biggest being: how on earth did she know all of this about her mum, grandmum and other characters? I think the author’s response would be something like, “Well, she’s magical. She just does,” but I would like to know.
Something else I liked about this novel was the fact that it was spiritual but not religious. It was a personal enjoyment to not be lectured about God (I don’t mind if people believe in Him, but I don’t want to be lectured into why I should/should not as I have yet to discover for myself) and to have the spiritual side described and explored in a new way. Certainly, even the descriptions of death were tragically astounding.
And now we get onto my completely personal notes. In my review notes, right after I had finished the book, I wrote, ‘AMAZINGLY HAPPY ENDING WHOOP WHOOP YIPPEE DI DOO DAH FANTASTICAL LOVE [THE] TWIST’. I think that just about sums up Ava Lavender for you: a fantastically beautiful tale of love and loss and all of the things in between as Ava discovers how to understand the world in a world that doesn’t understand her.
Basically, just read it.
TITLE: The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender
AUTHOR: Leslye Walton
PUBLISHER: Candlewick Press (Walker Books)
YEAR OF PUBLICATION: 2014
NUMBER OF PAGES: 301
PERSONAL SOURCE: Borrowed from the library