The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender
by Leslye Walton
Candlewick Press, March 2014
Discussions with older readers to explore the nature and good vs. evil in human history, in literature or in various religious teachings could be crafted from reading this novel. The physical depictions throughout history of angels (and demons) would also be an interesting exploration with students as would discussions about family relationships and family “curses” or vulnerabilities that can be shared within families.
Information about the Author
Leslye Walton is a new author and this book her debut. According to her website, it is a “break-up” novel, conceived while pondering life and lost love alone in the cold Pacific Northwest rain. Leslye is a young middle school teacher living in Seattle, working on her next masterpiece.
Genre: Fantasy/Imagination-Fantasy; Good and Evil-Angels; Magical Realism
Awards: Award Winners-Publishers Weekly Best Book; Morris YA Debut Award Nominee (2015)
Content Area: Family Life-Coming of Age
Text Measures/Reading Level:
Quantitative: ATOS Level: 6.8
Reading Level: CCSS grade band 6–8
Interest Age: Upper Grades 9-12
Challenge/Defense: Plot contains profanity, sexual situations, and violence.
Always check the American Library Association website for strategies and tips in handling challenges to library materials at http://www.ala.org/bbooks/challengedmaterials/support/strategies
Why This Book?
This book interested me because of the tragic nature of a girl’s story and the magical circumstances of her family. It appealed to me as a story of an outsider trying to fit in (a common thread for teen novels) but facing challenges that are not at all based in realism.