The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender is a wonderful magical realism book written by Leslye Walton. The story follows lives of different generations of the French Roux family from the time when they first arrived to the USA. Since their arrival they had to live a hard life. The story itself in concentrated on Ava and Henry Lavender, who are special twins. Henry is a child who doesn’t speak and sees ghosts like his grandmother. It seemed to me, that Henry is autistic. And his twin sister Ava was born with wings.
For better understanding of the peculiar children, the author describes the history of the Roux family through the eyes of Ava.
My favourite character in this story is Emilienne Lavender, born as Roux, who is the grandmother of Ava and Henry. I like Emilienne because she is a though woman. When her father brought the Roux family to USA they lived in a very small apartment. Most of the time they were hungry. Emilienne witnessed death of her entire family and had her own heart cut apart, unable to love or be loved by any man. She married only because of practical reasons. Soon after the birth of her daughter, her husband died and she was left alone with a baby in a big house with ghost of her past and a bakery to run. She managed to survive it all.
What is fascinating about this book is the excellent character driven narrative.
But before I continue I will briefly explain the difference between the character driven narrative and plot driven narrative.
Character driven narrative focuses on the characters and their inner conflict. While reading, the reader thinks about the characters, their decisions and about their personal development. On the other hand, plot driven narrative focuses on the actual happenings in the plot. The reader observes the development of a situation.
It’s hard to decide which one I prefer most, because it differs between genre. When I read a fantasy book, I prefer a plot narrative because I want to see the journey of the hero. But when I read a romance novel (very rarely) or historical fiction, I prefer a character narrative. So it’s hard to say, I guess any kind of narrative is okay, in you enjoy the book.