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Vaclav & Lena by Haley Tanner

Vaclav & LenaAfter reading quite a few glowing reviews of this debut novel, I decided I had to give it a shot.

The general synopsis is: two young immigrants from Russia who are in the same ESL class at school become, well, not ‘unlikely’ friends.  More like inevitable friends, once they are thrown together on a play date and go to Coney Island together.  Starting at the age of five, Lena becomes a fixture in Vaclav’s house, coming over every day after school and staying for dinner.  She is living with her aunt, who is a stripper/prostitute and fails to take basic care of her.  Rasia, Vaclav’s mother, takes Lena under wing and becomes her protector.

Then one day, just after Vaclav’s 10th birthday, Lena doesn’t come to school.  Lena disappears entirely, actually, for seven years.  In this time, Vaclav never forgets his friend and the magic show they had planned to perform together.  He says goodnight to her every night without fail, hoping that it will keep her safe, wherever she is.

The two are reunited after seven years and it serves to help them delve into the time before they met, the time they were apart, and any future they might have together.

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