cover image The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender

Leslye Walton. Candlewick, $17.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-7636-6566-1

Walton debuts with an entrancing and sumptuously written multigenerational novel wrapped in the language of fable, magical realism, and local legend. Ostensibly about a 16-year-old born with wings, the novel is also a rich retelling of Ava Lavender's family history, including her stalwart grandmother Emilienne's journey from adolescence in rural France and 1920s Manhattan to a hardscrabble life as a widowed baker in Seattle; and Ava's mother Viviane's unrequited obsession with a childhood love and the rearing of her children. Halfway in, Ava's story moves front and center, as she longs to leave the safety of her home, sneaks out with her friend Cardigan, and begins to fall for Cardigan's brother, Rowe. Flirting with fairytalelike occurrences throughout%E2%80%94Viviane has a supernatural sense of smell, one of Emilienne's siblings transforms into a bird, ghosts are everywhere%E2%80%94Walton's novel builds to a brutal but triumphant conclusion. It's a story that adults and teenagers can appreciate equally, one that's less about love than about the way love can be thwarted and denied. Or, as Walton puts it, "the scars love's victims carry." Ages 14%E2%80%93up. Agent: Bernadette Baker-Baughman, Victoria Sanders & Associates. (Mar.)