Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

Not even having a baby can keep librarian Rachel L from recommending new and great YA:

Every family carries, unwittingly or not, past sadnesses into future generations and Ava Lavender’s family is no exception. Only their regrets are a bit stranger than most.

It is now 2014 and Ava is an old woman reminiscing about her family’s past. Starting with the story of her grandparents, Ava traverses generations of heartbreak touched by magical realism: an aunt whose human form slowly morphs into that of a bird, a grandmother who can see her betrothed’s betrayal in the children he has fathered all over town, a mother who can smell intentions in the air. And then there are Ava, born with wings, and her twin Henry, who lives in a world completely closed to everyone around him, except the ghosts of the ancestors that have followed their meandering family.

Ava and Henry’s peculiar conditions have kept them cloistered in their home in rainy Washington state. Ava’s only friend is a feisty girl named Cardigan who brings a bright spot of normalcy to Ava’s uncommon life. But everything changes when a devout man named Nathaniel Sorrows moves next door and begins to believe that his winged neighbor is an angel from heaven. At the same time, Cardigan draws Ava out of her protective shell, introducing her—wings and all—to other teenagers their own age, and, more importantly, to her kind brother Rowe. Nathaniel’s obsession with Ava grows as life finally starts to change for the better for Ava, culminating in a storm of premonition, burgeoning and innocent love, and a final dark and unforgivable act.

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender has a fairy tale-like quality, but in a dark and brooding way. The sorrows abound in this novel, but take heart: there is hope enough to give wings to this strange and beautiful story.

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