Review: The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender

Posted by Jessi (Geo) on March 21, 2016 | 8 Comments

Review: The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava LavenderThe Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton
Published by Candlewick Press (3.27.2014)
Genres: Magical Realism, Young Adult
Format: eBook, 301 pages
Source: I own it

1 Stars

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.

My thoughts


Well….there’s 4 hours of my life I’m never getting back. What. the actual fuck. did I just read……….*blank stare* WHY DID NO ONE WARN ME HOW FUCKING WEIRD THIS BOOK IS?! This book was NOT my thing. At all. Total waste of my time. This was my first foray into the world of magical realism, and if it’s all like this book it’s definitely not something I’d ever read again. There was so much WTFery in this story I can’t even. It was like a train wreck, you just can’t look away.

Morbid curiosity is the only thing that kept me going to be honest. There was a ton of boring family history mixed with completely absurd shit. When I wasn’t having random fits of narcolepsy over how boring the history lesson was, I was laughing out loud because it was so absurd I couldn’t help myself. It took absurdity to the extreme. It was absolute ridiculousness.

Pierette turned herself into a canary, Maman was slowly disappearing, Emilienne shoved her betrothed out a window because she saw eighteen children running around with one blue eye and one green eye that were supposedly his. One of the girls didn’t age at all, and one saw a tall empty vase instead of her reflection when she looked in the mirror. People wept when they saw Rene Roux because he was so beautiful. Rene was having an affair with a man named William, whose wife caught them in bed together, then Rene fled the scene butt ass naked and ran through the streets:

…followed by a growing crowd of women (and a few men), all wrought with hysteria over the sight of Rene Roux’s naked buttocks. The frenzy quickly escalated into a full-fledged riot that lasted four and a half days. Several kosher businesses were burned to the ground and three people were trampled to death.

colbert laughing gif

Like I said, it’s SO ridiculous and absurd that you just can’t help but laugh.

[After Marigold Pie went crazy over baked goods and stuffed herself until she started to get fat] The soft mounds of her breasts seemed to find their way out of even the highest-necked dress. Men around the neighborhood now took a second look at Marigold when she passed on the street, and several boys found they were thinking of Widow Pie when they satisfied themselves at night.

When a stray feather fell from the sky and brushed against my face, I had my first true experience of spiritual ecstasy. Once I awoke in such a state of excitement that I took a knife to one of my bed pillows and pleasured myself with the feathers inside. Because that’s what I believe an angel will feel like: like slipping into a pillow of downy feathers.

bert wtf with book gif

Just the sight of him crossing the street with his mother led adulterous men to become celibate and avid hunters to develop appetites satisfied only be vegetarian foods.

View Spoiler » If rape is a trigger for you, I do not suggest you pick this book up. I could have done without reading it myself, and it’s not a trigger for me. What annoys me the most is, everyone was all “oh the ending is worth it” or “oh just stick it through, it gets better” and I kept waiting for something amazing to happen but it ended up just being totally fucked up. NOT worth it for me. The ending pissed me off, actually.

Speaking of the ending: THE ENDING?! What does that even mean?! View Spoiler » Maybe this book was too deep for me and whatever message the author was trying to convey with the fuckery went way over my head. *shrugs*

Many were talking about how this book fits the title – that it’s strange and beautiful. (Let me point out that this is the reason I picked the book up in the first place.) Strange is not the word for it in my opinion. It surpassed strange by a long shot. I felt like the author was on hardcore drugs when she wrote this book. It made me feel like was on drugs. Or at least I wanted to be, maybe then this book would have made sense. Usually I like weird, but this was too much for me, even. I didn’t find it beautiful, either. I found it quite boring, actually. Not to mention that the story jumped around all over the place between characters so much that it was hard to follow. I also saw that quite a few people cried while reading it, and were saying that it’s heartbreaking. I felt absolutely NOTHING. Other than disgust. I had no emotional attachment to this book. There were no feels whatsoever. Absolutely nothing. I couldn’t give two shits about any of the characters or what happened to them. I kind of feel like I got gypped, actually….

Let me just say: This story is NOT about Ava Lavender. There’s like 25% about her toward the end, and the rest is all her mother and grandmother and fucked up family stories. Most people loved this book, so maybe you will too. But I wish that someone had warned me before going in: This book is weird, fucked up, and absolutely absurd. Even a little disturbing. So prepare yourself.


Overall Assessment

Plot: 1/5
Premise: 2.5/5
Writing style: 1.5/5
Characters: 1/5
Pace: 2/5
Feels: 0.5/5
Cover: 4/5
Overall rating: 1/5

Jessi (Geo)

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8 responses to “Review: The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender

  1. Omg this review made me so happy!!! I have been seeing 5 star reviews of this book everywhere for like 6 effing months, and the synopsis just sounded like such a waste of time!!! I’m so glad you proved my hunch right hahaha! It’s so validating! I did have a small WTF moment when I read the second quote!! LIKE HAHAHAHA WHAT???????!!!!

  2. I felt THE SAME WAY. I was like, what the fuck even is this. Sooo not my style.

    I don’t even know what happened at the end because at that point I was skimming like a mad woman. I just wanted out of there.

    The only reason I didn’t DNF after chapter one is because I was supposed to read it as some kind of travelling book thing where we all read the book and annotate it. My annotations are mostly like, “What the fuck?” where everyone else’s were like, “Beautiful writing!”

    • Lmao “I just wanted out of there” – pretty much sums up my feelings about the whole book!

      Oh my goodness. I just don’t get it. I don’t get it at all. The two people who recommended it to me were all “It’s sooo beautiful you’re going to love it” and now I just want to go all Jim Carrey and be like “LIAR!”

  3. YES I AM SO WITH YOU ON THIS. “There was a ton of boring family history mixed with completely absurd shit.” <— an accurate plot summary

    When I was listening to the audiobook – which wasted WAY TOO MANY HOURS – I couldn't even figure out how or why it was possible that Ava Lavender was not involved with like 80% of the book.

    I didn't get the message or even what actually happened. No feels. Nothing. Ugh.

    • Oh my god Lauren how did you survive the audio?! I can’t even imagine investing that much time in it! At least with the ebook I could do some skimming when it got boring. You poor child lol!

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