Book Review - The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton
This book should definitely be read more then once!
To my mother, I was everything. To my father, nothing at all. To my grandmother, I was a daily reminder of loves long lost.
This is probably one of the most picturesque books I have ever read!
The story is told through the view of Ava Wilhelmina Lavender who was born on a remarkably clear Seattle night on the first of March 1944. Ava is was born with wings, which are the key to her faith.
Through Ava’s re-telling we find out about the faith, love and life of three generations of the Roux women, her grandmother Emilienne Roux, her mother Viviane Lavender and finally her own.
Through the story of the Roux women, Ava tries to understand what makes her who she is and what she is meant to become.
This book and this story is a combination of a fairy tail and a poem. I absolutely fell in love with the Leslye’s writing style. The whole story is melodic in it’s narrative that you feel like you just can’t put the book down. Considering this is her first book I’m very interested to see what she writes next.
If I had to describe the story without re-telling it I would have to say that it feels like a mix between reality and a dream. And if I had to describe the visual dynamic of the story I would say combine Hugo, Moulin Rouge and The Great Gatsby. So basically what I’m saying is this book should be made into a movie with Bez Luhrmann and Martin Scorsese collaborating to direct it.
In terms of the story I felt like Ava’s version of the story followed a child like narrative of events. It felt like she was told the story of the live and loves of her grand mother and mother with a child like filter. Some harsh realities of life were re-told in a way a child could comprehend and not feel sad or scared about what truly happened.
For example, and this won’t ruin the story as it’s right at the start after Pierette falls in love with an older gentleman when she was only fifteen:
After failing every other attempt to get the ornithologist to notice her - including a rather disastrous event where she appeared on the stoop of his apartment building wearing nothing but a few feathers plastered to an indiscreet place - Pierette took the extreme step of turning her self into a canary.
The bird-watcher never noticed Pierette’s drastic attempt at gaining his affection and instead moved …….only goes to show, some sacrifices aren’t worth the cost. Even, or perhaps most especially, those made out of love.
If I had to analyse this I would say that the changes Pierette made where drastic and irreversible that it cost her the future as her true self as she was forced to live a ‘canary’. Or perhaps it was unrequited love that after Pierette gave her self to this man she could not be married and as such had to live with her sister as an outcast who one one took seriously.
The descriptions in this book are so vivid that you truly feel like you have stepped into the story and time. You are transported and become part of the environment of each of the characters.
There is a part in the book that describes the smell of summer rain
(It) smelled like newly clipped grass, like mouths stained red with berry juice - blueberries, raspberries, blackberries. It smelled like late nights spent pointing constellations out from their starry guises, freshly washed laundry dying outside on the line, like barbecues and stollen kisses in a 1932 Ford Coupe
I mean really!
I absolutely love how Leslye ties up our emotions and memories to a particular event. I for one get goose bumps when I smell the burning of wood fire with the feel of the southern wind on my nose when the chestnuts are roasting….. and let me tell you it always reminds me of winter in Sarajevo no matter that it’s July in Melbourne.
Finally this book is full of emotion it truly plays with the idea of love and it’s differences weather it is being sought and unrequited or given freely. Love in this story is has many shades, the love of a mother and her children, love between two lovers, love between siblings, unrequited love and the love of a best friend.
Love is all around us, yet we don’t always see it being give, for when not returned from the person we seek it the most we feel empty and unloved.
Just because love don’t look the way you think it should don’t mean you don’t have it
This was a beautiful book it should be read by all, teenagers and adults, it has so many dimensions that no matter your age you’ll appreciate the story.
Foreseeing the future, I would later learn, means nothing if there is nothing to be done to prevent it
Published by: Walker Books