Download The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender Audiobook

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender Audiobook, by Leslye Walton Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Leslye Walton Narrator: Cassandra Campbell Publisher: Candlewick on Brilliance Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: March 2014 ISBN: 9781480583900
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A 2015 William C. Morris YA Debut Award Finalist

Magical realism, lyrical prose, and the pain and passion of human love haunt this hypnotic generational saga.

Foolish love appears to be the Roux family birthright, an ominous forecast for its most recent progeny, Ava Lavender. Ava—in all other ways a normal girl—is born with the wings of a bird. In a quest to understand her peculiar disposition and a growing desire to fit in with her peers, sixteen-year old Ava ventures into the wider world, ill-prepared for what she might discover and naive to the twisted motives of others. Others like the pious Nathaniel Sorrows, who mistakes Ava for an angel and whose obsession with her grows until the night of the summer solstice celebration. That night, the skies open up, rain and feathers fill the air, and Ava’s quest and her family’s saga build to a devastating crescendo. First-time author Leslye Walton has constructed a layered and unforgettable mythology of what it means to be born with hearts that are tragically, exquisitely human.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Magical realism colors this tale of a girl normal but for the wings with which she was born.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • “[This novel] should be remembered for the devastatingly beautiful character of Ava Lavender and how she depicts just what it is to be different.”

    Guardian (London)

  • “The characters are rich and familiar, and Walton does whimsy with a healthy dose of melancholy and tragedy. The storytelling is completely beautiful… A particularly toothsome and pleasurable read.”

    Globe and Mail (Toronto)

  • “[A]n entrancing and sumptuously written multigenerational novel wrapped in the language of fable, magical realism, and local legend…Walton’s novel builds to a brutal but triumphant conclusion. It’s a story that adults and teenagers can appreciate equally.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “Walton’s novel is both strange and beautiful in the best of ways…This multigenerational tale examines love and considers the conflicting facets of loving and being loved—desire, despair, depression, obsession, self-love, and courage. Difficult to categorize, this is a mystical tale, a historical novel, a coming-of-age story, laced with folkloric qualities and magic realism, often evocative of great narratives like Erin Morgenstern’s transcendent The Night Circus or the classic Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel. It is beautifully crafted and paced, mystical yet grounded by universal themes and sympathetic characters. A unique book, highly recommended for readers looking for something a step away from ordinary.”

    School Library Journal (starred review)

  • “In a sweeping intergenerational story infused with magical realism, debut author Leslye Walton tethers grand themes of love and loss to the earthbound sensibility of Ava Lavender as she recollects one life-altering summer as a teenager…Walton presents challenges that most teens will hopefully never face. She writes of love, betrayal, birth, murder, affection, and rape—and wraps them in prose so radiant that readers feel carried by Ava’s narrative. The heroine’s humor and wisdom as she looks back at her life let us know that she is a survivor.”

    Shelf Awareness (starred review)

  • “Using detailed imagery and an almost mythical storytelling style, teenage Ava tells the history of four generations of her family…[Teens] willing to enter Ava’s world on its own terms will find themselves richly rewarded.”


  • “Lyrical magical realism paints four generations of women with tragic lives until a shocking violation fixes everything…The story’s language is gorgeous…Disturbingly, a horrific assault acts as the vehicle of redemption, magically bringing people together for reasons that make sense only in the dreamlike metaphysics of literary device. Gorgeous prose for readers willing to be blindsided.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “Narrator Cassandra Campbell’s lovely alto grounds the magical realism that flows through this multigenerational tale…Campbell uses rich Gallic tones when performing the heavy French accents of some family members, and she playfully rolls her Rs when portraying Spanish characters. In the moments when dark, violent things happen to Ava and her family, her strong, warm voice offers a sense of security. Listeners are in for a strange and beautiful audiobook experience. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award.”


  • A Publishers Weekly Pick of the Week, March 2014
  • Winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award
  • An AudioFile Best Audiobook of the Year for 2014

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About the Author

Leslye Walton has an MA in writing. A native of Tacoma, Washington, she currently teaches middle school in Seattle.

About the Narrator

Cassandra Campbell has won multiple Audie Awards, Earphones Awards, and the prestigious Odyssey Award for narration. She was been named a “Best Voice” by AudioFile magazine and in 2018 was inducted in Audible’s inaugural Narrator Hall of Fame.