Note about my Reviews

Dear Authors: The reviews in this blog are only personal opinions. I have absolutely no background in literature, writing or reviewing. I am a Librarian (actually a Library Technician for those who care OR know the difference) with a love for a good story. The opinions in the reviews are ONLY my OPINIONS. I am not commenting on the writers ability since well -- I am not a writer and never will be. If you are the author of any of the books reviewed here, my opinion is just that and not a judgment against you!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Vaclav and Lena by Haley Tanner: Book Review

Vaclav and Lena
by Haley Tanner

Knopf Canada (Random House)
ISBN: 978-1-4000-6931-6
Release Date: May 17, 2011
Buy from Indigo

Description: Set in New York's Russian emigre community, Vaclav & Lena is a timeless love story from a stunningly gifted young novelist. Vaclav and Lena, both the children of Russian emigres, 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?.

The Good Stuff
  • Unique and charming story from a new, but extremely gifted novelist - trust me this will be on some award winning lists this year
  • Breathtakingly real characters, these are so richly developed and so very real
  • Powerfully emotional, teared up a few times, so sad and  so hopeful at the same time
  • Complex and conflicted real life emotional portrayal of children of immigrant parents
  • The relationship between Vaclav and his mother is beautiful and so honest. I really enjoyed the parts of the story that come from her point of view, it gives the story even more depth and understanding
  • Traumatic scene written very sensitively
  • Vaclav is just a beautiful character but also very real and enabling 
  • Dryly funny at times
  • Love the imagination of the young Lena and Vaclav
  • Wise observations of love, friendship and family - warts and all

The Not so Good Stuff
  • A little slow at times and it was a tough one for me to get into a first, but glad I persevered
  • Have a sudden urge for Borscht and I don't like Borscht  
 Favorite Quotes/Passages

"IT is not safe, for Vaclav, out in the world, with his eyes open to everything and  his heart beating right on his sleeve, with his dreams in his hands, ready to show and tell."

"Rasia thought that this Houdini person probably drove his mother to an early grave, worrying her with all his death-defying feats and doing Chinese water torture, and was not someone Vaclav should be so interested in.  But Vaclav wanted to hear a story about a little boy who came to America and became a big, brave, magical man, and this she understood."

"Watching him, you would think that he changed his clothes, maybe into a tuxedo with tails, but you would look and be surprised that he is still wearing the same jeans and T-shirt."

What I Learned

  • Some interesting facts about magic, magicians and Coney Island
Who should/shouldn't read

  • This is not for those who need a quick paced storyline
  • For those who like something just a little different and real
4.5 Dewey's

I received this from Random House in exchange for an honest review -- Thanks Jess you were right on!

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