Vaclav and Lena by Haley Tanner - 288 pages
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 one day, Lena does not show up for school. She has disappeared from Vaclav and his family’s lives as if by a cruel sleight of hand. 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.
My Review: 4 stars
An incredibly well written first novel told with the hint of an accent and enough broken english to make the story believable but not annoying. There is an overlying sense of magic in Vaclav and Lena’s relationship that parallels Vaclav’s quest to be a famous magician. This is a story about first love, soul mates, chance, immigrants, mothers and friendship. I’m not sure how I got this book, I may have won it on goodreads last year, but I’m so happy I finally picked up this short and sweet story from my TBR pile.
Quotes I liked:
-“Vaclav has said goodnight to Lena every night since the night she went away. Out loud. In a whisper. [...] He filled the words with all his love and care and worry for Lena and launched them out to her, and like homing pigeons, he trusted them to find her.”
- “...so jammed with adrenaline that every moment seems like an hour and every hour swells in an impossible way, and time does not pass at all. But of course the time passes; it is one of the truths of the universe; No matter how much pain, how much joy, how much nervousness, how much anxiousness, how much love, how much fear, how much itching, how much scratching, how much fever, how much falling, time passes.”
- “...because her son is growing and changing every second and she has only so many hours to mold him like clay. She has only so many ours to show him that is is important to do homework, to have dinner like a family, to not do drugs or to steal or to be a lazy person or a cheat. She must protect him from pedophiles, from strangers, from bullies, from guns and from carbon monoxide poisoning.”
-“Maybe this is how it always is. Maybe someone always wants more. Maybe everyone has a time when they realise that they've been accidentally lying when they say I love you, I miss you, you're pretty, you're the prettiest one, I never want you to leave. Maybe this time ends and it all becomes true again, as true as you ever thought it was. Maybe this time does not end. If this time ends, it would be a smart decision to wait it out. If it does not end, then perhaps you should not wait, and you should find another person to whom you can say these things without lying. But perhaps it always happens, no matter which girl or boy you are trying to love, in which case you might as well stay where you are because you would repeat the same process with anyone else.”
Tags: 2012, Fiction, Coming Of Age, YA
Labels: 2012, Coming Of Age, Fiction, YA