Vaclav & Lena

There was a story about this book on NPR. Naturally, I wanted to pick it up. It is the story of two kids who are Russian emigrants and who are friends, until one day, Lena disappears.

Vaclav and Lena met when they were five. They were, for most of their childhood, their only friends. Vaclav dreams of being a famous magician like Copperfield or Houdini. Lena will be his lovely assistant. Lena lives with her aunt, who does nothing to take care of her. Lena spends most of her time with Vaclav. Then one day, Vaclav’s mom, Raisa, goes to check on Lena, who has not been at school. Raisa walks into Lena’s apartment and sees something that causes her to call the police. Lena is removed from the home and Vaclav doesn’t know where she went.

He never stops thinking about her. And when they are in high school, five years later, they find each other. Lena has been adopted by an American woman and she wants to go to Russia to find her parents. Vaclav loves her and says he’ll go with her. And that is where the plot synopsis ends.

I have mixed feelings about this book. It is well-written from the perspective mostly, of Vaclav and Lena. I like the way Hilary Tanner writes her dialogue to indicate they are not native English speakers. I liked the story. I was a bit dissatisfied with the ending, but that seems to be a recurring pattern lately.

The story is written in parts. The first part is written from Vaclav’s perspective. Then there is a small part written from Vaclav’s perspective when Lena disappears. Then there is the story of Lena. Part of my problem with book is that the thing that happens to Lena is really not dealt with. I suppose that in reality, that might be the case, but I thought that the book could have been longer. I found the ending to be abrupt.

It seems as though the author ran out of things to say. I read the story and found that I wanted to know more. I wish that the book had been longer. Overall, though, despite the ending, I liked the book. I was thinking about picking it for book club before I read it. And I might still. I’m just not sure. I do know that it’s worth the read.


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