avalavenderLeslye Walton
(Walker Books)

The Roux family have had their fair share of misfortune when it comes to love. When she finally settles in a quiet neighbourhood of Seattle, Emilienne Roux hopes to have left the Roux love curse behind. But fate has a way of finding you wherever you are hiding, and Emilienne, and later her daughter Viviane suffer the consequences. When Viviane’s daughter Ava is born with wings, and her twin brother Henry born quiet and with a sensitive soul, the family is desperate to protect them, no matter what. This works until teenage Ava becomes desperate to venture out and join her peers. Can there be such a thing as a normal life for the girl people call an angel, and will the Roux love curse finally catch up with her too? When Ava’s story reaches a heart-wrenching devastating climax, it seems fate has finally caught up with them all.

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender is a debut novel like another. The story is as intriguing and melancholic as its title may imply and its array of unusual characters adds layer after layer to a story which can may seem complex and confusing at first, but all layers come together intricately beautifully to create a family saga with the intensity of love at its heart. But this is no simple love story, but rather a story of how love elates you, hurts you, changes you. However, despite the despair of loss, heartbreak and abandonment, there is always hope in The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, much like in Tennyson’s famous lines:
‘Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.

Walton’s style  is entrancing and compelling, oozing with lyricism and fairytale like imagery. My only small criticism is the ending left me yearning more for Ava particularly (though Viviane’s denouement made my heart leap with joy) but this is a small detail in what is otherwise quite an extraordinary and utterly intense tale. 

Completely unique, sometimes brutal, sometimes a little singular, but always compelling, The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender will be a perfect read for the more astute teen reader who is after something different, and offers a great bridge towards more complex adult fiction. The depth and lyricism of writing will make this wonderful book just as alluring and gratifying to adult readers.

source: review copy from publisher