Rob Brunner
May 11, 2011 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Vaclav & Lena

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Haley Tanner
publisher
The Dial Press
genre
Fiction

We gave it a B+

This debut starts off cute but slight, with 10-year-olds Vaclav and Lena exploring a proto-romance to the odor of borscht and the lilt of mangled syntax in Russian-immigrant Brooklyn. Then Lena suddenly leaves under murky circumstances and the book heads for something darker and deeper, especially after the story jumps forward seven years and the couple reunite to grapple with the past and, possibly, feel their way toward a future. Vaclav and especially Lena never quite cohere into threedimensional characters, but Tanner is a gifted-enough storyteller to bring some real emotional heft to Vaclav & Lena. B+

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