Synopses & Reviews
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 foregone 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 goodnight to Lena without fail, wondering if she is doing the same somewhere. On the eve of Lena’s seventeenth birthday he finds out.
Haley Tanner has the originality and verve of a born storyteller, and the boldness to imagine a world in which love can overcome the most difficult circumstances. In Vaclav & Lena she has created two unforgettable young protagonists who evoke the joy, the confusion, and the passion of having a profound, everlasting connection with someone else.
"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)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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 and her fiancé. This is her first novel.