Vaclav and Lena by Haley Tanner
Posted by Caitie F on January 11, 2012
Set in New York’s Russian émigré community, Vaclav & Lena is a timeless love story from a stunningly gifted young novelist.
Vaclav and Lena, both the children of Russian émigrés, are at the same time from radically different worlds. While Vaclav’s burgeoning love of performing magic is indulged by hard-working parents pursuing the American dream, troubled orphan Lena is caught in a domestic situation no child should suffer through. Taken in as one of her own by Vaclav’s big-hearted mother, Lena might finally be able to blossom; in the naive young magician’s eyes, she is destined to be his “faithful assistant”…but after a horrific discovery, the two are ripped apart without even a goodbye. Years later, they meet again. But will their past once more conspire to keep them apart
This book was a lovely debut. I enjoyed the life as an immigrant story line. Every person looked at coming to America differently and tried to fit into the melting pot in their own ways. The differences between Raisa (Vaclav’s mother) and her husband are astounding. Their relationship kept me more interested than even the two main characters. I really wanted to see her come out of her shell a little more and assert herself. She was actual my favorite character in the novel!
The relationship between Vaclav and Lena was complicated. There were times I wanted to shake her and tell her to stop being so mean. There were more times I wanted to shake him and tell him to stop being so naive. They were just so frustrating, but in a good way since that meant that they could grow and change.
One thing I really didn’t like was the huge gap in what happened to them when they were separated. Some of it was filled in, but I think there was a chance to explore how they got to be young adults. There also is a kind of traumatic event towards the end that gets glossed over and i wish they would have shown the affect on Lena and if they were ever really able to reconcile it and move on.
But don’t think it was a bad book, it was a lovely quick read.