"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Monday, December 8, 2014

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

2014 will long be remembered by me as the year I was initiated into the literary genre magical realism. It started with One Hundred Years of Solitude, the quintessential novel written in the magical realism style by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, followed closely by Bless Me, Ultima. Both are classics and I highly recommend them. True confessions though, my appreciation of the style grew because of my willingness to read information about the books and the style on Shmoop and other lit-helper sites.

When The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender came along I felt well-prepared to read another book in the magical realism style. I didn't even flinch when the aunt turned into a canary...an actual bird, when ghosts of long dead family members spoke to the living, or when Ava was born with wings. Unfortunately this book doesn't have SparkNotes yet so the reader is on his/her own to figure out what all the symbolism and magical elements mean.

Ostensibly the book is an account of Ava Lavender's family history, one where she recounts how all the females in the family have trouble with love. So it shouldn't come as a shock to anyone if a girl born with wings doesn't expect anything so "grandiose as love" to come her way. Yet, the whole book is really about love, or more accurately about the many ways that love can be denied. The author Leslye Walton says it is about the "scars love's victims carry."

Ava Lavender is born with wings.  Of course she has wings BUT she cannot fly. The way I see it she cannot fly because her wings are pinioned by her family history. Don't we all have to break out of what is holding us back before we can fly?

I am a huge fan of this book. I caution readers to be patient with it and not to read it too literally. Let the story unfold. Allow the magic to seep into the pages and then you will find the multiple layers of meaning underneath the obvious one, making the reading experience very rich and fulfilling.

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton. Brilliance Audio, 2014, performed by Cassandra Campbell. Purchased.

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