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To many, I was myth incarnate, the embodiment of a most superb legend, a fairy tale. Some considered me a monster, a mutation. To my great misfortune, I was once mistaken for an angel. To my mother, I was everything. To my father, nothing at all. To my grandmother, I was a daily reminder of loves long lost. But I knew the truth — deep down, I always did.
I was just a girl.
This book made me do a lot of thinking and even now, twelve hours after finishing, I'm torn on whether I liked it or not. It wasn't what I expected or what I thought I was going into, but nevertheless it was poignant, memorable and incredibly well written.
I guess it's more of it's not you, it's me
situation. Every review I've read so far praises the masterpiece that is [b:The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender|18166936|The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender|Leslye Walton|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1397110326s/18166936.jpg|21445699] and it feels weird being that
person. The one who is unsure whether she liked it or not.
What I didn't expect was how the first 50% evolved. The story starts with Ava's great-grandmother and her unique gifts, and the family history. In detail, we are told of the foolish love that has haunted Ava's family tree for generations: her great-grandmother, who loved yet didn't love her husband, to Emilienne (Ava's grandmother) whose love betrayed her and she never found the strength to love again, to Ava's mother whose love also betrayed her and left her heartbroken for many, many years, who couldn't possibly find love in anyone else, to Ava, who just tries to fit in.
The first half of the book is all about her grandmother and mother, and it read too much like a prologue/introduction for me to really get into the story. I wanted desperately to just get on with it, to start Ava's story, that I began losing interest and patience. From the blurb, I expected a brief history and then for us to dive straight into Ava's story, but it wasn't like that at all. For most people, I guess this isn't an issue, but it was an issue for me. Not to say that if I'd been told about this, I wouldn't have picked it up because I would've probably read it anyway, but it bothered me that it took forever to get to the point.
When we finally did get to Ava's story, it was brief and not as climactic as I would've liked. I'd guessed what would've happened from the onset, which left me disappointed when it my expectations revealed to be true. What I liked:
I loved Ava's voice and the way she narrated the story. It read a lot like [b:The Curious Case of Benjamin Button|747746|The Curious Case of Benjamin Button|F. Scott Fitzgerald|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1331235364s/747746.jpg|1650517] which has been a favourite of mine ever since I was a little girl. The voice is lyrical and poignant, enough to keep me interested and, I'll admit, hooked from the beginning.
I loved the characters we meet - Ava's twin brother, Henry, her stand in dad, Gabe, Cardigan, Ava's best friend and many others. Each character comes with their own stories and personalities which distinguished them from each other (unlike many YA stories these days).
like the history of the family, although I would've liked it more if it had been shorter.What I didn't like:
- Both Emilienne and Viviane, who, after being burned by love, became selfish and cold. I wished, although this makes them even more real, to see more of a mother-daughter interaction between Emilienne and Viviane, and between Viviane and Ava. There wasn't enough of this and in both situations, the daughters were left to fend for themselves. It bothered me, a lot, that Viviane didn't show any sort of affection for her children until it was a little too late, when things had started their downward slide. I like to think that if Viviane had shown Ava more affection, then she wouldn't have been attacked and hurt.
- I disliked the way Viviane handled things with Gabe because of her broken love. I totally understand that she was heartbroken and upset but man, it's been fifteen years, time to grow up a little and get over it.
- I disliked the ending. It left too much out there. It left too much to the imagination. It's not really an ending but a softer version of a cliffhanger. It makes you truly wonder what happens next. I don't like those endings, especially if they're meant to be stand-alone novels. I want closure.
There are more things I liked than things I didn't like. I guess it just wasn't the read for me this time round, so I'll probably read it again one day and see if my opinion changes.
For now, I'll leave it as it-isn't-you-it's-me with a three star rating, which isn't bad at all.