Emily May's Reviews > The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton
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it was amazing
bookshelves: young-adult, 2014, magical-realism
Recommended to Emily May by: karen

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.

*(view spoiler)
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Quotes Emily May Liked

Leslye Walton
“Love makes us such fools.”
Leslye Walton, The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender
tags: love


Reading Progress

January 25, 2014 – Shelved
April 5, 2014 – Started Reading
April 5, 2014 –
page 52
16.25% "I don't think I can put into words how wonderful this is. I laughed, I cried, I fell in love... all in the first chapter. And it just keeps getting better."
April 7, 2014 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-50 of 99 (99 new)


Deanna I just picked up my copy today! Can't wait to read it.


message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

Can't wait to try this out! It seems good :)


Emily May It is!


Turkan Taskin Hi Emily! I know this is going to sound kinda random, but have you read A thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Husseini? Thanks


Emily May Yeah, I really liked it!


Turkan Taskin Me too! And i was so happy to find out that there would be a movie coming out in 2015! :D


message 7: by Emily May (last edited Apr 07, 2014 05:58PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Emily May Yep, I just hope it's good


Turkan Taskin Would you like to, or have you already watched Divergent?


Emily May I haven't yet but I probably will. I'm curious about it. Have you?


Turkan Taskin Yeah, I watched it today; it's really good! It's actually better than The Hunger Games 1st movie.


Daniela I am so excited about this book, its reminiscent to Laini Taylor for me:)


karen YES!


Monique Just got free re4ading copy of this from work, so excited to read it after seeing your review! :)


Emily May @Daniela That was running through my head too whilst reading this! I wasn't sure I should mention it, though, because it might give people the wrong impression. There are many similarities, but they're also very different books.

@karen I'm so glad you reviewed this! I probably wouldn't have noticed it otherwise :D


Emily May Monique wrote: "Just got free re4ading copy of this from work, so excited to read it after seeing your review! :)"

Hope you like it, Monique!


message 16: by Leelo (new) - added it

Leelo Loves-Books love the reaction.


Emily May Leelo wrote: "love the reaction."

Thanks ^_^


shady boots | #WatchPOSE Seeing this review makes me wanna start reading again. I stopped reading cause of my now growing video game obsession, but also partly because I lost faith in YA. This book however sounds fantastic, and I go crazy for magical realism.


message 19: by Carly (new) - added it

Carly Well now I'm curious :D Sounds like a great book, it sure is worth trying.
Also a great and fun review :)


Emily May @frozen I really hope you do! I'd love to see what you think of this :)

@Carly Thank you!


message 21: by Stuti (new) - added it

Stuti (Turmeric isn't your friend. It will fly your ship The atmosphere was so beautiful yet chilling. I quaked hard every time Henry said, "Pinna hurt!" And then the diary entries started and I was like, can we get past this already? This is scaring me. I felt like Henry when it was all over and he thinks he's glad b/c now he doesn't feel responsible. I hated that Nathaniel so much, from the beginning. And worse still is that his name is in the title! Sorrows! hatehatehatehate!

I so want to write my own review now!


Navessa WANT. WANT. WANT.


Paula M. of Her Book Thoughts! Whenever I see a 5Star from you, I immediately want to read it. :P I just bought this. Can't wait to dive in. I'm in a major reading slump, hope this can get me out of it :(


message 24: by Aly (new) - rated it 3 stars

Aly Locatelli WANT. NEED. MUST HAVE.

If you rated it 5 stars, then it must be pretty darn good.


Tiffinee Brown Just added it to my list of to read


Kelsey And because of that review..I will be reading this :)


Mari Jaye i'm currently reading the sample for this book, so i won't read your review yet, but i'm encouraged that you've given it five stars...


message 28: by Sara (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sara Ohh, this is going straight on my to read shelf!


Cristina i am only about 70 pages in but LOVING this refreshing gem of a book. in response to the Laini Taylor mentions above, I agree, but not only due to the writing style, also because it is written in a way that assumes its reader is intelligent and sophisticated and a lover of beautiful prose. it seems some YA authors do not see it that way. . .


message 30: by Alyssa (new) - added it

Alyssa Thank you for your review, Emily. I'll put this in my TBR shelf. You are the queen of reviews!


message 31: by Tali (new) - added it

Tali Prasad Your review is really wonderful and makes me want to read this book! Can not wait to purchase it!


Emily May Ah, thank you all! I really did love this one so much. It's rare that I stumble across books that have such an effect on me... I'm still thinking about it.


message 33: by Sarina (new) - added it

Sarina Your review is hardly making any sense at all and I mean it in a ....strangely good way. ^__^
This book's just jumped on my to-read list... :D And I am a bit anxious but also curious to start this book...


Kelli Emily, I had no desire to read this book, but now I do, thanks in part to your truly lovely review.


Emily May Kelli wrote: "Emily, I had no desire to read this book, but now I do, thanks in part to your truly lovely review."

Thanks, Kelli :) I thought it was truly beautiful... I hope you love it too.


message 36: by Erin (new) - added it

Erin Waiting to get this book at the library, now Im really excited to get it!


message 37: by Jade (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jade Prince im trying this one next looks interesting!


Sheri Wow, what a review! Ok, I'm convinced. I want to go thorough all those emotions, Added this to the list. Now I have to see if my library has it.


message 39: by Jade (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jade Prince Finished it in six hours could not put it down amazing from start to finish!


Green.T. I loved your review before I read this and I loved it even more after I finished.


Charlotte Frank I just finished reading it and I feel completely the same way about the book. It's simply amazing


Emily May It is... there really aren't words.


message 43: by Liz (new) - rated it 3 stars

Liz Brilliant review!!


Emily May Thank you, Liz :)


Daniela Just finished it... So good, too good. Why don't more people know about this? They should. They must!


Emily May I know :( This book needs more readers!


Apoorvaa Singh Looks promising! Does anyone have an ebook version to pass along?


message 48: by Emily May (last edited May 13, 2014 04:53AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Emily May Apoorvaa wrote: "Looks promising! Does anyone have an ebook version to pass along?"

Just be careful about asking that on the Internet - ebook sharing is illegal! No judgement here, just don't want you to get into trouble :)


message 49: by Jason (new) - added it

Jason I think you can loan out books you buy from amazon and basically you act like a library and it is passed onto that person and it vanishes from your kindle…. or am i crazy? or was this an old function/option?


Emily May Yeah, you can loan books between kindle devices by going into your Amazon Kindle account, which is completely fine if that's what Apoorvaa meant :) But it's illegal to directly send ebooks to a person. The laws regarding ebook sharing all seem a bit sketchy to me, but I know some people care about it a lot and might report you :/


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