Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Teen review: Magical realism

Reviewed by Amy Sepulveda, 10th grade

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, by Leslye Walton, despite its long title, was just not a long enough book for me, taking into consideration the 301 pages of enigmatic wonder. It is a tenth-grade reading-level fantasy novel, that is unfortunately not part of a series. Walton’s novel has earned a 5/5 from me, for writing style, and plot and character development.

This admittedly very odd and thoughtful novel is full of love, heartbreak, and isolation. Throughout the book, we learn about Ava Lavender’s family as she attempts to find out why she was brought into this world with wings, when her twin brother Henry is anatomically correct (although his personality is strange). The story begins in the early 1900s with Ava’s great-grandfather, and Walton tells the tale of each life brought into their family before Ava and Henry. Each of Ava’s grandmother’s siblings has had a mysterious and gruesome fate, while her grandmother Emilienne lives on and takes over everything. Readers learn about the sad life of Ava’s mother Viviane, and then the teenage years of the twins, with Ava just trying to fit in with her best friend Cardigan’s friends when she sneaks out every night.

I found that I absolutely loved The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, though I admit I definitely had my doubts when I began reading. Each life I read about was so different compared to the others, even though many of them were siblings. I learned that no matter where one is from or what family one grows up in, each person has their own life and experiences with love. I at first believed that I would be bored just reading about other people’s sad, boring lives, but I discovered that other’s lives are not boring at all. They’re all full of adventure and finding new things in life that no one before has. Every page was compelling and it was impossible for me to put the book down because I was so intrigued. I would recommend this book to anyone, including adults, because there is a multitude of lessons that anyone, of all ages can learn.

The cover art shows a single golden feather, representing Ava’s wings, and also how anyone can be freed from the barriers they either set up for themselves or others put up for them.

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