‘The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender’ is a title most apt. This is more than the winged girl- the story extends to everyone and everything that contributes to her making and yes, that covers their sorrow, as well. It’s sweet then not sweet, terrifying and then terrifyingly real. It’ll also make you cry. It did me.
Her odd family portrait begins with who her grandmother is and why she is that way. It’s a past filled with labels of the pretty one, smart one, then quiet one, then later the strange one;. After an escape of sorts to a new world, we have heart break after heart break after heart break. Then it’s her mother’s story- one that was not sweet, but could have been. A lot of the wanting and not getting becomes clearer here for all of them (Jack, Viviane, Gabe… and much later Ava and Henry.) Finally we have Ava and her own sorrow, one built up first on Emilienne’s and then later upon Viviane’s.
So beyond the girl, we have family. How one story touches on the other; where the latter elaborates on the ‘what could have been’s’ of the first. There’s an echoing of the sentiment from one generation to the next: that feeling of being limited by circumstance coupled with that need or want for something else (more.) Things broaden in scope, beyond their common experience t include all other’s they touch on: the community comes to play a bigger role in the goings on. A murmur here, an expectation there… even the moments of fear and lust and even love… on who’s feeling it, but more importantly, why. Take Jack and John and how without them Viviane wouldn’t be as she was and consequently neither would Ava. Or Emilienne’s with her bread and all that opened to them.
This is more than just the girl. I loved it.