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Extended Audio Sample Vaclav & Lena: A Novel, by Haley Tanner Click for printable size audiobook cover
0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 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:
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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.”


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


  • “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.”


  • “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 by 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 by 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 by 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 by Lolly LKH | 2/4/2014

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

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