Book Review – The Strange And Beautiful Sorrows Of Ava Lavender

by Leslye Walton (Walker Books) ISBN 978-1-4063-4808-8

Never judge a book by its cover, except this one. It is a beautiful book with a gorgeous title and a lovely story.

Ava Lavender is a perfectly ordinary girl, except that she has wings. The book starts with her birth and then jumps back to the arrival of her grandmother’s family in Manhattan, and the story of how they ended up in Seattle. It is a story about bad choices and lost loves.

If you do not like magic realism, stay well away. If you do, stop whatever you are reading and get this book. I think I am officially jealous of Ms Walton, even if she broke the rules and got things wrong. There was a viewpoint issue that annoyed, generational backstory that was slow at times, but it was so beautiful and gorgeous that I really didn’t care.

I am even considering adopting a yellow canary.

Mia Botha


If you like magic realism, you will probably enjoy this book.

Ava Lavender is an ordinary girl, except that she was born with the wings of a bird. She comes from a seemingly cursed family who are doomed to love foolishly and suffer the consequences. We learn about her great-grandmother, Maman; grandmother, Emilienne; and mother, Viviane’s stories. The book, told in memoir style, explores generational themes of love and love lost. The novel is about these women and the men in their lives, the boys they love, the brothers who try to protect them, and their absent fathers.

Walton writes beautifully, but Ava cannot possibly know the stories of the other women, and I found the story told through her viewpoint jarring.

Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 2nd July 2014