Review: Vaclav & Lena

Posted: September 23, 2013 in Reviews, Young Adult
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Author:  Haley Tanner

Hardback,  292 pages

Published in 2011 by The Dial Press

Reader Category:  Young Adult

From the Publisher:  Vaclav and Lena seem destined for each other.  They meet as children in an ESL class in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn.  Vaclav is precocious and verbal.  Lena, struggling with English, takes comfort in the safety of his adoration, his noisy, loving home, and the care of Rasia, his big-hearted mother.  Vaclav imagines their story unfolding like a fairy tale, or the perfect illusion from his treasured Magician’s Almanac, but among the many truths to be discovered in Haley Tanner’s wondrous debut is that happily ever after is never a forgone conclusion.

One day, Lena does not show up for school.  She has disappeared from Vaclav and his family’s lives as if by a cruel magic trick.  For the next seven years Vaclav says good night to Lena without fail, wondering if she is doing the same somewhere.  On the eve of Lena’s seventeenth birthday he finds out.

My Review:  I have had this book for a while as  I purchased it for very cheap at my local library’s quarterly book sale.  I occasionally picked it up and looked at, only to put it back down again.  Just recently, I read the jacket again and decided to give it a try.  Boy am I glad I did!

This book is so engaging that I had a hard time putting it down.  Ms. Tanner is able to draw the reader in with her simple prose, allowing them to be swallowed by the story.  I’ve read other reviews and sometimes see the comment that the story ends too abruptly.  In my opinion, the story had to end this way as the book could have gone on for a lifetime.

This heart-wrenching tale of two young children ripped apart by unthinkable acts is sure to stay with me for some time to come.  Vaclav’s love for Lena and his need to protect her tore at my heartstrings.  All young Lenas would be so lucky to find their Vaclav.

I highly recommend this book.

  1. Sounds like a great read – thank you for sharing.

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