So it is my last entry for the Book Blog Blitz. This saddens me greatly as I really enjoyed being able to read such good books. I mean, I was given an incredible gift of these stories even if they were not necessarily my faves. The following is the last book I read. I wish all the contestants in this contest of which is chosen to be the Morris award winner from the ALA. I cannot even imagine how it will be chosen as these are all so different but all so good. I will post the winner as soon as I find out (hopefully later today) as they are chosing it today here in gorgeous Chicago. Fingers crossed!
The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavendar by Leslye Walton
I have to say that this book was one I had to "drink the punch" for. I mean that I just could not rectify the nonsensical undertones of the story so I found myself having major issues with the story and characters. Once I just took away the oddities, I focused on the main messsage of the story.
The outcome was far from imaginable. I mean, it was pretty tranparent. How can one not see that coming from a mile away? But I also felt that it was the ending that needed to occur. It just seemed a bit off and rushed into in a way. I was dismayed by the long (and I mean really long) intro into Ava's life by going through the major happenings in the family. And yes I understand that they needed to be told and it played into Ava's story, but seriously, it was LONG. I don't think Ava was even "born" until halfway throught the book.
The "love story" aspects of the story was a bit bland. Nothing there was earth-shattering or major in my opinion. I am used to there being a love overpowering everything else or at least it seems that way from the point of view of a high school kid. And here I felt it fell flat. Even in the case of Ava's ancestors, I felt nothing was amazing in that category.
And the oddities in the personnas - the mute, the wings of a bird, etc. They were so unbelievable and unenjoyable that I had to ignore them to enjoy any aspect of the story. And yes the wings play a vital role in the story as it becomes the obsession of Nathaniel Sorrows, but they still were out of my realm of believable oddities in a person. I perhaps allowed my rational brain a bit more control in this review than I should have.
Overall, I would give this story a 3 out of 5 stars. The writing was fair and the story was ok. I just could not enjoy it as I am sure others did for it to end up with these other stories.
Leslye has an MA in writing and lives in Seattle, Washington. When she's not writing, she teaches middle school students how to read and write, and most importantly, how to be kind to each other, even on days when they really don't feel like it. She is currently working on her next novel.
From the Author:
The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender started out as a short story that came to me while listening to the song “I Just Don’t Think I’ll Ever Get Over You.” I remember listening to the lyrics, “If I lived till I could no longer climb my stairs/I just don’t think I’ll ever get over you” and pondering the logic, or lack thereof, in love—the ways we coax ourselves to love, to continue loving, to leave love behind. And through this thinking arose Viviane Lavender, a girl who love a boy her whole life. I imagined the burden of this love, the many ways she’d try to free herself from it. I imagined the immense weight of loving someone who didn’t, or perhaps couldn’t love you back, and how it would define every step you took from that point on.
Over the course of a few months, more characters began showing themselves to me, revealing their intricate place in this now-evolving story. Henry was based on an autistic boy I taught who had a preoccupation with and remarkable aptitude for mapmaking. Trouver was a neighbor’s dog I walked to earn money while in grad school. But it was Ava who changed everything. At the time, I was playing with the idea of introducing characters through detailed descriptions of photographs. I was looking at a picture of my younger sister, taken when she was perhaps eleven. To be honest, I’m not even sure if the image itself actually exists, or if it merely an image that I recall when thinking of my sister as a young child—all long limbs and big teeth, wearing oversize white T-shirts, and running, always running, her shirt billowing out behind her as if she had wings. And it was in that description that I came to a stop, my fingers poised over the keyboard, and I thought No. Not as if she had wings. She has wings. And it was with that thought that I had the premise of the book.