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Extended Audio Sample Vaclav & Lena: A Novel Audiobook, by Haley Tanner Click for printable size audiobook cover
3.87 out of 53.87 out of 53.87 out of 53.87 out of 53.87 out of 5 3.87 (23 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Haley Tanner Narrator: Kirby Heyborne, Rebecca Lowman Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: May 2011 ISBN: 9780307932723
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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 among the many truths to be discovered in Haley Tanner’s wondrous debut is that happily ever after is never a foregone conclusion.

One day, Lena does not show up for school. She has disappeared from Vaclav and his family’s lives as if by a cruel magic trick. 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.

Haley Tanner has the originality and verve of a born storyteller, and the boldness to imagine a world in which love can overcome the most difficult circumstances. In Vaclav & Lena she has created two unforgettable young protagonists who evoke the joy, the confusion, and the passion of having a profound, everlasting connection with someone else.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “A debut to savor…Tanner’s charming story unfolds as gracefully as a flower.”

    People

  • “The magic Tanner makes is as dazzling as it is profound.”

    Booklist

  • “From the moment they meet, Vaclav and Lena make magic together…Through all the twists and turns of the book, the most enduring theme of the novel is love.”

    NPR

  • “Highly recommended…Tanner’s captivating debut novel is a love story of unusual innocence and intensity [and] a suspenseful, literary work that is hard to put down.”

    Library Journal

  • In this charming and wonderfully engaging tale, the reader is swept into the beautifully rendered landscape of the immigrant childhood experience. Haley Tanner has created a world peopled with characters of great poignancy and they will linger in the mind––and heart––long after the book is put down. Elizabeth Strout, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Olive Kitteridge
  • 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, stunning the reader again and again with small shocks of awareness. This book is sad, funny, true and shot through with grace. Judy Blundell, National Book Award–winning author of What I Saw and How I Lied
  • Vaclav & Lena is a wonderful achievement, generous, playful, moving and refreshing. It was the voice that first captivated me here, a voice that allows Haley Tanner to say anything at all, and to say it truly. Give this novel a few short pages, and I guarantee you’ll want to read it to the end. Kevin Brockmeier, author of The View from the Seventh Layer and The Brief History of the Dead
  • “A terrific, enlightened debut. Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
  • “Wonderful and wrenching…Vibrant characters, believable romance, and dark undertones make for a moving tale.”

    New York Times

  • Selected for the June 2011 Indie Next List
  • Nominated for the Barnes & Noble Discover Award

Listener Opinions

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Miss Theriault | 2/12/2014

    " This book reminded me of the experience I had reading The History of Love by Nicole Krauss - I wanted to LOVE it based on the reviews, the cover, numerous reccomendations and... I was disppointed. It just didn't live up to the hype. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Michelle V | 2/10/2014

    " This book reads like a bedtime story, which is kind of what it is about....2 children, bound to each other, separated, and reunited. A very easy read. I didn't LOVE it, but it was nice, in it's own way. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Cassie | 2/4/2014

    " It took me a few pages to get used to the writing style, but once I did I could hardly put it down. The characters are incredibly endearing and the novel is full of lovely little moments of poignant awareness. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lolly LKH | 2/4/2014

    " review to follow been lazy since my hand is still fractured but the cast is off "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lisa | 2/3/2014

    " This is a touching story that peers into the immigrant experience and is a testament to friendship, love and tenacity. The creative chapter titles added to my enjoyment. The ending is a bit abrupt and the last line could have been written more clearly. But the power of redemption lingers beyond the last page. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Erika | 1/27/2014

    " The opening scenes of Vaclav & Lena read like a Pixar montage. It is charming and filled with wonder and all that makes childhood magical. I was hooked from the first two paragraphs. A great debut novel from Haley Tanner. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jeanne | 1/27/2014

    " This book is somewhat similar to The Solitude of Prime Numbers. It's about 2 young misfits who find each other. I really liked the writing and the character development. Vaclav is the son of Russian immigrants, wants to become a professional magician and is hopelessly in love with Lena. Lena is an orphan living with her drug-addicted Aunt. I read straight through it in a couple of days and was sorry that it wasn't longer. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tim | 1/25/2014

    " This book has some achingly beautiful truths about love. Good job, I want to read more from this author. The comments from Russian-Americans, however, we should take seriously. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Laura Hoffman Brauman | 1/20/2014

    " Exquisitely told -- with a pitch perfect point of view told by 2 Russian immigrant children with very different histories.. Beautifully written. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Theresa | 1/6/2014

    " read it in a day.... i really enjoyed the story & the interaction between the 2 main characters. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Rachel | 1/1/2014

    " Could not have loved this book any more than I did- beautiful! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Maribel Castellanos | 12/29/2013

    " Liked the first part when Vaclav and Lena are together, their English isn't very good and they practice magic after school in Vaclav's bedroom. Rasia's bedtime story is very cute. Tender mother-son moments here. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Beano | 12/26/2013

    " What a wonderful little love story here. So vivid and simple, yet dealing with some pretty heavy subject matters. The characters are wonderfully written out. Highly recommend. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Maureen S | 12/11/2013

    " Four, bordering on five stars. Started slow, but was utterly engrossed by the end. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ania | 10/25/2013

    " Beautiful love story, full of memorable characters, and if you're an American kid with foreign parent--or even an adult whose parents still don't seem to understand you--the relationship between Vaclav and his mother will break your heart. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Chuck | 10/7/2013

    " Really enjoyed this short, easy to read story. I would recommend it to all. Suggest you read the synopsis at Amazon or Barnes and Noble. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Labmom | 8/2/2013

    " This was short and sweet without being treacly or maudlin - a surprise given how cutesy it starts. A very easy read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kelly | 7/17/2013

    " one of the best books I've read in a while. It was well-written, not predictable, a fast read and engaging. It was the type of book that if I had the time, I would have curled up on the couch with and read in one sitting. Can't ask for much more in a book! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Linda Thompson | 1/12/2013

    " This wasn't too interesting to me, but I had to finish it to see how it ended, and even that was not too satisfying. Oh well... "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Alaina Maxam | 12/3/2012

    " really enjoyed this book. it is a well written book. i enjoyed it more than i thought i would. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Linda Cohen | 9/19/2011

    " It was going to be 4 stars until the end-the very last chapter left tears in my eyes. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Rachel | 5/23/2011

    " Could not have loved this book any more than I did- beautiful! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Wendy | 4/21/2011

    " I liked the first part well enough, about the young childhood friends of Russian immigrant parents in Brooklyn. I loved their stories as older teenagers. Well-written, heart-felt and a glimpse into another world. "

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About the Author
Author Haley TannerHaley Tanner was born in 1982 in New York. She holds an MFA from the New School and a BA from Clark University. She lives in Brooklyn with her two dogs and her fiancé. This is her first novel.
About the Narrators

Kirby Heyborne is a musician, actor, and professional narrator. Noted for his work in teen and juvenile audio, he has garnered numerous Earphones Awards. His audiobook credits include Jesse Kellerman’s The Genius, Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother, and George R. R. Martin’s Selections from Dreamsongs.

Rebecca Lowman is an actress and audiobook narrator who has won eight AudioFile Earphones Awards. She has starred in numerous television shows, including Law & Order, Big Love, NCIS, and Grey’s Anatomy, among many others. She earned her MFA from Columbia University.