Funny, heartbreaking, rich and wise, this is a story with the power to cast a spell all of its own.
Vaclav and Lena seem destined for each other. They first meet as children at their English class in Brooklyn. Vaclav dreams of becoming a famous magician with Lena as his lovely assistant. But then Lena disappears; it seems that life can play cruel tricks too. Vaclav says goodnight to Lena every night for seven years to keep her safe, and then discovers why she was taken from him. Is their connection strong enough to survive the truth, or is happily ever after only an illusion?
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Like all the best tricks, Hayley Tanner's novel leaves you wondering how it's done. [A] Brighton Beach Romeo and Juliet... Funny, warm and smart - and with a peppery twist that suggests truth and love don't always sit easily - this is a magical summer read. - Financial Times
Tanner infuses their relationship with sunlight but never sentimentalises the immigrant experience...A uniquely charming first novel. - The Times
[A] wonderful and wrenching debut novel ...She offers a case of love so mighty that you believe that it will end up rescuing a traumatized young woman. - New York Times
Haley Tanner has painted in this touching, sparsely written and powerful love story set in New York's Russian community, a vivid portrait of childhood and young adulthood that is likely to appeal to teenage readers and adults alike...It's not often a book comes along that can leave you literally nodding in agreement with the clarity of its insights - but this one has to be a contender. - Daily Mail
Tanner has fun re-creating the shimmering world of child co-conspiracy...The story is winningly conveyed...and Tanner doesn't dodge the more unpalatable elements. - Guardian
Haley Tanner has created a world peopled with characters of great poignacy and they will linger in the mind - and heart - long after the book is put down. -
Vaclav and Lena is a wonderful achievement, generous, playful, moving, and refreshing... Give this novel a few short pages, and I guarantee you'll want to read it to the end. -
There are books you enjoy, and then there are books you live in. Haley Tanner plunges you into the Russian émigré community in Brooklyn, where two souls connect under a maternal watchful eye. Tanner's assured narrative voice finds new ways to describe emotion and character, bringing the reader up short again and again with small shocks of awareness. This book is sad, funny, true, and shot through with grace. -
What is most intriguing about Tanner's debut, it its surprising darkness, the secrets that lie beneath the cheerful boy-meets-girl of its surface narrative...there are unexpected moments that linger in the memory long beyond the final page of this smart, proficient debut. - Literary Review
Set in New York's Russian émigré community, this is a quirky tale about two children from different worlds who are destined to be together. Amid dark revelations, the relationship between these vividly painted characters will stay with you. - Easy Living