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Vaclav & Lena : a novel
Haley Tanner
Adult Fiction TANNER

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Tanner's romantic and moving debut tells the story of two children, both born of Russian immigrants in Brooklyn, whose lives intertwine from an early age. Vaclav is a precocious eccentric devoted to list making. Lena is a quiet, stubborn, secretive child. The pair, as children, imagine themselves destined for fame as magicians on the Coney Island boardwalk, though, in Lena's case, their friendship is a refuge from something worse. They hole up in Vaclav's room to refine their act each day while Vaclav's mother, Rasia, watches over them with gnawing concern and makes a quiet effort to intervene in Lena's life. The horrid specter of adolescence changes their relationship, but the abyss where Lena's family should be and the fact that Vaclav can't understand what happens when his friend goes home, all threaten to sever their connection. But this is a love story, and these two keep faith over the years, with each building an emotional shrine to their relationship until a reconnection years later proves to be magnetic, stormy, and revelatory. If the final reveal doesn't live up to the emotional crescendo that's been building throughout the novel, readers will nevertheless be more than taken by the one-of-a-kind relationship between two magnificent characters. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

From Library Journal:

As children, Russian immigrants Vaclav and Lena practice their magic act after school every day under the watchful eye of Vaclav's mother, Rasia, who imagines all kinds of dangers befalling her son in their Brooklyn neighborhood. She also worries about Lena, who is too thin, sneaks food into her backpack, and lives in abominable conditions with her aunt. Should Rasia simply mind her own business, as her husband, Oleg, tells her to do? When she witnesses something terrible on a visit to Lena's home, she calls Child Protective Services and Lena is taken away. In the second part of the novel, Vaclav is 17 and has never gotten over losing Lena. When Lena reconnects with Vaclav, what is initially bliss quickly turns to pain as the truth about the past surfaces. -VERDICT Tanner's captivating debut novel is a love story of unusual innocence and intensity. Her prose is understated but powerful and also quite funny. A -suspenseful, literary work that is hard to put down, this is a highly -recommended addition to any collection. [See Prepub Alert, 11/22/10.]-Joy -Humphrey, Pepperdine Univ. Law Lib., Malibu, CA (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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more titles about

main characters Vaclav
Russian American
Precocious; verbal; devoted to list making, became friends with Lena when they were children; Lena disappeared over seven years ago.

Russian American
Stubborn; became friends with Vaclav when they were children; took comfort in Vaclav's home and family life.

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