The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
To many, I was myth incarnate, the embodiment of a most superb legend, a fairy tale. Some considered me a monster, a mutation. To my great misfortune, I was once mistaken for an angel. To my mother, I was everything. To my father, nothing at all. To my grandmother, I was a daily reminder of loves long lost. But I knew the truth — deep down, I always did.
I was just a girl.
Me immediately after finishing this book:
What the hell am I supposed to do now? What do I possibly read after this? How do I REVIEW this? How can everyone else just go on with their lives around me while I’m sat here clutching my kindle and trying to gather the pieces of my broken heart?
Me a few hours after finishing this book:
This book is easily the best book I have read this year. I’d even go so far as to say it’s one of my favourite books, period. And now I somehow have to find the words to explain why.
The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender is, as its title would suggest, a strange and beautiful book. It’s a story about a family, spanning multiple generations – it’s about life, love, desire, obsession and wasted youth… and it’s fucking beautiful. There is something so breathtakingly real and honest about this book, even though aspects of the story are fantastical. It’s a tale about many people, each crafted with rich personality and an almost painful humanity (even those not quite so human).
The writing is so beautiful, but simply so, that I found myself feeling inexplicably emotional at times. The story just carries this mood, an atmosphere, that permeates the entire novel and left me with goosebumps. Walton wields bittersweetness in a way that can make you smile and break your heart in a single sentence. She captures the intense and feverish desires and obsessions of youth and first love/lust – with more than a little perversion at times. There is something so beautifully ugly about life, about love, about realizing you no longer love someone.
The Griffith House was like nothing Viviane remembered, reminding her of how fast the world changed and of how insignificant she was in the grand scheme of things. She thought it unfair that her life should be both irrelevant and difficult. One or the other seemed quite enough.
Being a relatively short-to-average sized book and having so many characters, you’d think this book would fall short of the mark and fail to develop complex characters. But it doesn’t. At all. In fact, the large cast of characters – none of which is wasted or throwaway – made this book absolutely fascinating. I’m not sure I’ve felt such a strong emotional connection with a book since the weeks immediately following my discovery of Melina Marchetta. Every single character interested me, I didn’t relate to them all but I felt like I understood each one of them. And this is what makes so much of the book feel helplessly tragic. People are hurt by other people who I wanted to hate for hurting them… but I couldn’t.*
And it really is so sad. It’s about the foolishly inexplicable things we do, the things left unsaid, the unknowing, the things that could have so easily been different. But I promise that it’s not all doom and gloom either. It’s a rich, intoxicating whirlwind of emotions. It’s exciting and romantic and incredibly funny.
I’m not going to say anything else because this review is descending into blabbering, gushing madness and I’m going a little crazy with the BOLD text (hehe). But, what can I say…
Love makes us such fools.
And I really love this book.