- Hardcover: 304 pages
- Publisher: The Dial Press; First Edition edition (May 17, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1400069319
- ISBN-13: 978-1400069316
- Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 1.1 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 87 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #656,521 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Vaclav & Lena: A Novel Hardcover – May 17, 2011
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“Wonderful and wrenching . . . Vibrant characters, believable romance and dark undertones make for a moving tale.”—The New York Times
“From the moment they meet, Vaclav and Lena make magic together. . . . Through all the twists and turns of the book, the most enduring theme of the novel is love.”—NPR
“Haley Tanner’s assured narrative voice finds new ways to describe emotion and character, stunning the reader again and again with small shocks of awareness. This book is sad, funny, true, and shot through with grace.”—Judy Blundell, National Book Award–winning author ofWhat I Saw and How I Lied
“Highly recommended . . . Tanner’s captivating debut novel is a love story of unusual innocence and intensity [and] a suspenseful, literary work that is hard to put down.”—Library Journal
“A debut to savor . . . Tanner’s charming story unfolds as gracefully as a flower.”—People
“The magic Tanner makes is as dazzling as it is profound.”—Booklist
About the Author
Haley Tanner was born in 1982 in New York. She holds an MFA from the New School and a BA from Clark University. She lives in Brooklyn with her two dogs. This is her first novel.
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Top customer reviews
This is a well written but extremely poorly researched book. Numerous stereotypes and inconsistencies with the Russian immigrant experience. If I was not a Russian immigrant raising first generation Americans and as such extremely familiar with the subject matter, perhaps I would have felt differently. Atypical or incorrectly spelled names of characters, insisting English is spoken at home to being in ESL at 9 despite coming to US at age 4. As an example, i came to the US at age 13 speaking only a little English and was taking Advanced Placement English by age 15.
I wish I can give this 2.5 stars. I rounded up to 3 but am being generous.
The novel is written with the syntax of what we think of the way Russians speak English. And, in fact, the way they do because I teach at a college where I have had Russian students. So when the one-star reviews claim this is all stereotypical, maybe so. But it is also the way it actually is. And it is endearing.
But then it gets to be too much as the children grown apart--I won't tell you why--and age.
It would have been better had the author done this as a shorter piece.
This was an excellent, beautiful, sad book. I recommend it.
Likes: I loved the writing and prose; I found myself highlighting a lot of quotes. The characters were awesome and well developed. I thought that Vaclev's momma, a big, brash Russian immigrant, was glorious in all her homely looks and beautiful momma soul. I loved that Vaclav and Lena were Russian immigrants and it leant to their bond and their differences to other kids. I loved that they were both children and young adults so you could see how it began, and how it began again.
Dislikes: Well, it is quite sad, although it's not really a dislike, but it did not make me feel like liking it when it was describing some sad things.
Vaclav and Lena are two immigrant Russian children living in Brighton Beach, in Brooklyn. Vaclav is very verbal and bright in school. Where Lena is quiet, and struggling learning in school.
Vaclav loves magic, he is protected and loved by his parents. But, Lena is taken care of by her aunt. Her home life is terrible. She is left by herself, most times when her aunt works at the club. It is thought, and hinted that she lives in a abusive home, and her aunt is a drug addict.
Vaclav wants Lena to be in he's magic act and be he's assistant. He agrees that he will do her homework if she will be he's assistant in he's magic act. Vaclav brings Lena home, and he's mother observes Vaclav's doing her homework, she is eating from their refrigerator. She doesn't like this, but she is aware of her home life, and feels for her, and says and does nothing.
Instead Vaclav's mother takes Lena under her wing, tries to be a substitute mother to her. She adores Lena and tries to help her in different ways.
They continue to practice the magic act. The day before the magic act, Lena doesn't show up for class. Vaclav comes home, and worries something is the matter. He tells his mother, she goes to Lena's house to find out what is the matter. Vaclav's mother doesn't come back till the next day.
We find out that his mother, tells him half truths, not the entire truth of the story of what happens.
Lena, like the magic trick, she vanishes. For seven years Vaclav doesn't know where Lena is. He feels something will happen to her if he doesn't say goodnight. They meet each other on Lena's birthday, when she turns 17. He finds out all along she was still in Brighton Beach.
He's life is interrupted by Lena coming back in he's life. They learn, and we the readers learn the history of what happens to Lena's parents. How she came to the United States from Russia.
My Review: I have been wanting to read Vaclav and Lena since it came out. I did not know what the story was about. It looked different than most other books I have read. At times I like to read magically, and quirky books. This novel did fit the bill. I am so happy, I read the novel.
I don't read books in one day usually three or four days. This one I read in one day. I loved the writing style of the author. It actually felt like I was reading short stories. The book takes place first when they are 7 years old. Then when they are absent from each other. The last part when they find each other. Then when we fast forward seven years.
It is a bittersweet magical story of Vaclav and Lena. It is also the love of a mother and son. The love and magic of the two friends helped Lena survive. It is possible that things can change for the better. It was a story about two friends trusting each other. The story did not focus on the tragic life of Lena, but her moving on past her childhood.
It was a sad story, but the end made it a satisfying read. I am glad I read Vaclav and Lena.
Not everyone will enjoy reading, but if you like to read stories that are magical, like I do, you will appreciate it this book quite awhile ago. I love books that are a bit quirky, this fit the bill.
Most recent customer reviews
The title and artwork appeared interesting enough, I thought It would be an coming of age story...Read more