The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender: Best taken with an almond pastry and a steaming cup of nostalgia.
This is the story of love, the ups and downs, the misunderstandings, devotion, sweetness, and of course, sorrow of falling in (and out) of love. The stories of four generations of Lavenders are told in a sincere and poignant style, all narrated by the youngest of the clan, Ava. The book divulges the most secrets passions and regrets of each of the women, in such an easy manner that you are left wondering how you came to be so familiar with the characters in such a short time. Walton ties in whimsy and bleak desperation that creates an air of sorrowful beauty. By the middle of the book, I felt as if I had known these women personally for a number of years. I was invited to cry, laugh, and stare in awe in the magical domesticity of their lives. Up until about halfway through, I was completely roped in.
Oddly, Ava Lavender, the main character, seemed the most inaccessible, even typical character. Despite her physical differences, she was normal enough, and I didn't feel much pity for her. Her personal story was mildly interesting in the beginning, but didn't seem to be a coherent part of the book. She is an abnormal teenager whose only hope is to be normal. Fairly typical plot, but it was not completely off putting, as Walton upheld her lyrical style of writing that was so enticing. But then the climax of the book took a bizarre turn -- the only word I can describe it as is grotesque. That may have been Walton’s goal, but it was so out of sync with the rest of the story that I was left feeling like, “well, that escalated quickly…”. It really was a depressing and creepy twist. To be honest, I didn't understand the point, and the next twenty pages until the end certainly didn't help to clear anything up. The ending lacked a sense of closure. This is unfortunate, because I truly loved the the elder Ms. Lavender’s, and I believe the book is worth reading, if only for the first half. In short, the second was a little horrifying, and not in a chilling-but-entertaining-horror-story kind of way. It was just too weird and bad. This was too bad, because the other characters are vivid, full of life, and extremely readable.