Leslye Walton
Published: March 27th 2014 by Candlewick Press
Pages: 320

Foolish love appears to be the Roux family birthright, an ominous forecast for its most recent progeny, Ava Lavender. Ava—in all other ways a normal girl—is born with the wings of a bird.

In a quest to understand her peculiar disposition and a growing desire to fit in with her peers, sixteen-year old Ava ventures into the wider world, ill-prepared for what she might discover and naïve to the twisted motives of others. Others like the pious Nathaniel Sorrows, who mistakes Ava for an angel and whose obsession with her grows until the night of the Summer Solstice celebration.

That night, the skies open up, rain and feathers fill the air, and Ava’s quest and her family’s saga build to a devastating crescendo.


Love, as most know, follows its own timeline. Disregarding our intentions or well rehearsed plans.

This was, without a doubt, the strangest book I’ve ever read.

It took me a week to read The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, with its beautiful and strange writing that carried so much weight and emotion in its words. It was a book that made me think, weaving and twisting fantastical elements through the reality the characters found themselves in, making the story rich and unique.

I’m not sure I have the right words to say how amazing this book was. The story itself was so interesting and, well, strange that it took me no time at all to fall in love with it. But the atmosphere throughout the entire novel made it so that I had to take my time with it, taking breaks in between chapters to gather my thoughts. And also to lie down for a little while because the hearts in my eyes were making it a little hard to continue reading, haha.

There were a a lot of characters to get to know and read about, as The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender told the story of Ava’s family all the way from her great-grandparents. That is not to say the book felt crowded or the characters thin and flat. Every single character was fascinating and layered, and the strangeness of Ava’s family only made it all better.

Despite all of the amazingness, the beautiful writing, the complex characters, and the tiny fantastical aspects, this book was sad. It was about hurting those you love and being hurt by them, about things left unsaid, about people ruining things they desperately want and taking what isn’t theirs to take. It was honest. It was human. And it was painful to read at times.

The ending wasn’t what I expected at all! It was bittersweet, but hopeful. Strange and beautiful. And it fit extremely well with the overall theme of the book. It also made me want to re-read the beginning, just so I could get to experience it all over again.


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