by Leslye J. (Leslye Jo Anne) Walton

Reviewer Rating:


Absorbing, lyrical, and poignant. This is, without question, one of the best books I have read, and certainly one of the best examples of magical realism I have encountered. In fact, I feel silly even trying to review it--it speaks for itself, and anything I say about it may very well break its spell....

Ava Lavender was born with wings. She traces her birth through four generations of heartbroken women, who have responded to such plights as rejection and loss by cutting out their own hearts or turning into birds. Ava describes this grotesque and painful family history with an even hand, arriving at her own origin just as her mother has decided to live the rest of her days as a recluse. Such as it is, Ava and her odd twin brother Henry also live secreted away from the world until the night that Ava sneaks out of her bedroom to experience life as other teenagers supposedly do.

Unwittingly, Ava captures the attention of the devout and troubled neighbor, who develops a disturbing obsession with Ava's wings. The ghosts of Ava's dead family warn Henry of a room filled blood and feathers, but Ava appears as doomed to tragedy as the women who have gone before her.

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