Second Bookses

It's like second breakfast. Only with books.

Vaclav and Lena

Vaclav and Lena - When I got the chance to obtain a review copy of Haley Tanner's Vaclav and Lena through NetGalley, I jumped at the chance. I have a thing about magicians, and the blurb for the book promised something about magicians, or so I thought.::: The Plot :::Vaclav and Lena meet as nine-year-old children, both members of the Russian immigrant community in New York City. Lena relies on Vaclav more than she'd like to, but finally, they are separated one day and don't meet up again until they are 17.When they meet again, they aren't the same, but fall into familiar patterns, with big secrets that swirl around them.::: Doesn't Sound Like Much, Does It? :::The book promised that Vaclav was a promising young magician and Lena his assistant, but the magic is really just a blip. The focus is on their relationship, and even that I could have lived with had it not been for the stereotypes that kept tripping me up.I really wanted to like the book, but there were so many things out of place. For instance, Tanner makes it sound odd that Lena went to school only knowing how to speak Russian. I hate to break it to her, but a fair majority of ESL students go to school like that; the days of not speaking the native language at home disappeared in the 1940s. Even my friends for whom English was a second language spoke their native language at home, and I'm far older than Vaclav and Lena were supposed to be. Vaclav's mother seems to always be serving borscht at home; I suppose that's what all Russians eat. And then there's the way we eventually find out how Lena's aunt and only living relative got to the U.S.; by the time I got there, I had assumed Sam the Eagle's side-eye death stare of my own, and this was long before the bizarrely rushed ending.Tanner had the bones of a lovely story here, and the relationship between Vaclav and Lena is complex and intriguing, but Tanner cluttered it with too many stereotypes and a hurried ending that diluted what might have been.This review previously appeared on Epinions: http://www.epinions.com/review/Haley_Tanner_Vaclav_and_Lena_epi/content_580438298244

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