Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Connections: The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows and Ava Lavender

 Leslye Walton's debut novel The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender has inspired me to talk about books featuring girls with wings. Walton's book is an eerily beautiful work of magical realism. It tells the story of three generations of women, Ava, her mother Viviane, and her grandmother Emmaline Roux. The Roux family is strange, and the strangeness is passed down from generation to generation until Ava is born with wings. 
Magical realism tends to put me in a certain kind quiet kind of mood, and I really enjoyed the beautiful prose and lovely bizarreness of this book until the introduction of Nathaniel Sorrows, and then the whole thing soured a bit for me. I tire of psychotic religious characters, especially when the psychotic religious character is the only religious character in the novel. It was all too clear where the novel was headed once Nathaniel Sorrows entered the scene.

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender is being marketed as a young adult book, but it doesn't feel like a young adult book to me. Yes, there are three coming of age stories in this book, but it is as much, if not more so, about love in old age as it is about youth. Ava's life and experiences, if anything, open her mother and grandmother's eyes to the love they have been blind to for so many years. 

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender is out March 25th, 2014. Review copy from NetGalley.

The Connections:

Laurel Winter's Growing Wings is a book in the same vein written for a middle-grade audience. When eleven-year-old Linnet begins to grow feathery wings, secrets about Linnet's family are revealed. Like, The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, Growing Wings involves several generations of women in Linnet's family. I read this book several years ago, and it's one that has stuck with me over time.

Aprilynne Pike's Wings fits squarely in the young adult genre. It offers a new interpretation of faeries. Laurel was left in a basket on her parent's doorstep at the age of 3. She's always been different from other kids--unable to digest anything but fresh vegetables, fruits, and Sprite, and she can't stand to have too many clothes covering her skin. At 16 the differences get even more pronounced when she discovers a bump on her back that leads Laurel to a whole new world that explains her origins. 

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