Book Review: The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender

Ava Lavender: half human, half bird. 

Leslye Walton’s “The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender” explores the beauty and devastation of Ava trying to find love while hiding her enormous set of nonfunctioning wings. 

The novel is narrated by the “old” Ava Lavender, while she is explaining her grandparent’s history of love, her own history and what moments she wished she would have savored at the time. 

Ava’s grandmother and grandfather were both immigrants from France who came to America in search of a better life. However, while they were here, they experienced many hardships that shattered their idea of “better living.” 

Ava had always been a little different, but she never understood why. Her mother kept her inside all day, and she never got to do what the other kids were doing. She woke up, helped her mother around the house and bakery and stayed away from everyone. That’s what she’d been instructed to do all her life. 

However, Ava isn’t the only child in this family. In fact, she has a twin brother, Henry, who is described as “odd” and “silent.” However, Ava doesn’t see him as a different person, considering her circumstances. 

It wasn’t until a neighborhood boy showed her that different was OK to him, even if it wasn’t OK with the other kids. 

This beautiful tale of magical realism portrays the idea that different is not always bad or something to run away from. Uniqueness is what makes the world a beautiful place. Without the celebration of such, everyone would be the same, and the world would be incredibly boring. 

Walton does a fantastic job of demonstrating the beauty in affliction. Because Ava is not the ideal version of a beautiful woman, Walton portrays a strong and courageous character instead. Because of these characteristics, Ava becomes a more sturdy and dynamic character. 

This book is fantastic to read for anyone who believes their faults are a disadvantage. It reassures the reader that no matter what characteristic they think is extremely embarrassing, it will never be as bad as they think.

Believe in yourself and the world will show you where you belong.