Every once in a while, a book comes along that is magical and lyrical, that blends the strange and the sublime, that captures the essence of what it is to fall in love and to be in love, that you can't help but be amazed.
The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender is one such book.
The Ava of the title was born to a heritage of foolish love, of which her speckled "angel" wings are just one sign. Locked in her house because of her mother's fears, Ava is confused and lonely. So, in order to understand her fate ("Both my anguish and my solace. My escort and my cage."), Ava delves into the histories of her mother Viviane, and her grandmother Emilene.
Told sequentially from rural France through 1920s Manhattan to 1950s Seattle, it's not a simple history. Rather, the lives of the Roux women are a dreamlike ones, full of tragedy and unrequited love. Of passion and consequences. Of wings and bakeries full of irresistible delicacies and men who inspire people to confess their sins by their simple presence and boys who only talk when they feel an absolute need.
The writing in this slim novel is poetic and sparse without ever feeling contrived or forced. And it should have appeal to both adults and teens alike, being less about the act falling in love than it is about the ways love can be denied. Gorgeous in its simplicity, from the cover design all the way to the last page, this book will be one that will linger with you for a long, long time.