Candlewick Press, 2014. Review Copy Provided by Publisher.
Reviewed for the Morris Award Finalists Blog Tour
From YALSA: "The William C. Morris YA Debut Award, first awarded in 2009, honors a debut book published by a first-time author writing for teens and celebrating impressive new voices in young adult literature."
Ava Lavender is just a girl. A girl with wings. To better understand herself--why she is the way she is, what happens to her--she takes readers back three generations to explore the other women in her family: her mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother.
What I thought: I can honestly say I've never read anything quite like The Strange & Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender. A compelling blend of magical realism and historical fiction, you are drawn into the story of this family. Their triumphs and trials, as it were. Ava is a wonderful narrator. This book is not a happy book, but that doesn't stop Ava from relating episodes from her life or her family's history. I found parts of this book very hard to read. Life for this family isn't always happy or pretty. It's often difficult, ugly, and tragic. Despite that, I couldn't put this book down. Leslye's use of Ava's family history is brilliant. By the time you get to Ava's story (her life as teenager), you are so attached to and invested in this family. No matter how dark the story becomes, you keep reading. I think what I most enjoyed about the book was the ending--satisfyingly happy and filled with hope. I would recommend this to teens looking for something different. The Strange & Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender is not the usual contemporary or paranormal fiction I often find my teens reading. I think adults will also enjoy this book.
To visit more stops on the Morris Award Finalist Blog Tour, visit Cinco Puntos Press Blog.
For more information about The Strange & Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender and its author Leslye Walton, visit her website.