Friday, June 3, 2011

VACLAV AND LENA: A REVIEW AND GIVEAWAY

GIVEAWAY ENDED 
VACLAV & LENA
BY HALEY TANNER
  
ABOUT THE BOOK:
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.

PRAISE FOR VACLAV AND LENA:
“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, bringing the reader up short 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 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Haley 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. This is her first novel. From Haley Tanner's website HERE, I found out the following additional biographical information on this author: 
Haley Tanner was born in New York City (in the Bronx!) and raised on a lovely street in a house her father (most famous as the superhero Astroman, the man who can do anything) built with his own two hands. Haley's mother was named one of Forbes 100 Mothers to Emulate in recognition for her love, support, and understanding during the years that Haley was a Police Dispatcher / Parliamentary Assistant / Waitress / Bank Teller / Tutor who was also hard at work on a novel. In her spare time Haley enjoys being terrible at yoga, running slowly, and cuddling whatever dog she can get her hands on. Haley currently lives in Brooklyn, under the shadow of the Williamsburg Bridge, with her rescued pug Mojini Jane and the most beautiful Tennessee mutt this side of the Mason Dixon line, Ruthie Catfish. Haley's husband Gavin recently ditched a six year battle against cancer to rejoin the star stuff we are all made of, and she lives surrounded by the sense of wonder and joy and possibility he left behind, as well as a ton of gorgeous furniture he made out of reclaimed wood.

GUEST REVIEW:
Vaclav is a five year old boy who has aspirations to become the next Harry Houdini. Vaclav’s mother, Rasia, plans a play day for Vaclav with a five year old girl named Lena. Rasia takes the two of them to Coney Island; however, Vaclav and Lena soon find out that the two of them are not nearly tall enough to ride any of the rides. Vaclav wants Lena to experience something magical to remember this special trip so he secretly purchases tickets to a sideshow. This secret viewing of the verboten sideshow permanently seals a bond between Vaclav and Lena. From that day forward they plan a special day for Vaclav’s debut as the magnificent magician and Lena as the beautiful assistant.

Just before the big debut show, Lena disappears from Vaclav’s life under never discussed circumstances. Vaclav is inconsolably heartbroken. Every night Vaclav says good night to Lena and wonders where his companion might be. Vaclav will not learn the truth of her disappearance until Lena’s 17th birthday. 

This book is absolutely loaded with “favorite passages.” I found Vaclav analyzing the rationale for saying good night to Lena as one of my most admired passages:

“The power of saying good night each night to Lena is great. On the first night that Lena was gone, Vaclav said good night to her, put the good night out into the scary, lonely darkness, and meant each word in a very specific way. Good night. Good night. He wanted her to have a good night. Not a scary night. Not a dangerous night. Not a cold or lonely or nightmare-filled night. He filled the words with all his love and care and worry for Lena and launched them out to her, and like homing pigeons, he trusted them to find her, and he felt, that night, that his words would keep Lena safe, that if he thought about her and cared about her and showed this to the universe, then bad things would not happen to her. Vaclav was not asking an omnipotent god to grant him a wish. He was stirring in himself his own very true emotions, his pure feelings, and pushing them, birthing them into the universe, giving flight to a powerful energy that he trusted would do what as a child he was powerless to do.” Page 142

This book is magnificently constructed and constructed magnificently. The third person narration brought to life the two protagonists, Vaclav and Lena. I found their Russian accents drawing me deeper and deeper into breathtakingly richly developed characters of the two Russian immigrant children.  Haley Tanner in her debut novel gives us a window into the poignancy of two incomplete lives and the transcendence that lies beyond our human perception. This book will find your heartstrings -- grab them and not let go.

This book goes one step beyond the category of being a good book – this book is truly magnificent. Books that fall into magnificent category deepen my enthusiasm for reading literature – trust me Haley Tanner’s debut novel will undoubtedly be awarded some literary award this year.

---Reviewed by Steve Capell

Thank you for an AMAZING review, Steve! Steve retired after thirty-two years in the telecommunication industry first as a telecommunication microwave engineer and then as a regional project manager. Steve is married to his lovely wife for 36 years now and their children have grown up and moved out and been "replaced" by their two Chihuahuas, Miley and Pepper. If you are familiar with book blogs, then you know Steve for his always interesting comments. Steve's first Guest Review for me was A TIME FOR PATRIOTS and you can go HERE to read more about this good friend and wonderful reviewer!

GIVEAWAY

THANKS TO ERIKA AND THE GOOD
FOLKS AT RANDOM HOUSE, I HAVE TWO
COPIES OF THIS WONDERFUL FIRST
NOVEL TO GIVE AWAY
 
--U.S. RESIDENTS ONLY
--NO P. O. BOXES
---INCLUDE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS
IN CASE YOU WIN!
--ALL COMMENTS MUST BE SEPARATE TO
 

COUNT AS MORE THAN ONE!

HOW TO ENTER:

+1 ENTRY: COMMENT ON WHAT YOU THOUGHT ABOUT WHAT YOU READ ABOVE ABOUT VACLAV AND LENA AND DON'T FORGET YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS

+1 MORE ENTRY: COMMENT ON SOMETHING YOU FIND INTERESTING WHEN YOU VISIT AUTHOR HALEY TANNER'S WEBSITE HERE

+1 MORE ENTRY: BLOG AND/OR TWEET ABOUT THIS GIVEAWAY AND COME BACK HERE AND LEAVE ME YOUR LINK

+1 MORE ENTRY: COMMENT IF YOU HAVE ENTERED THE GIVEAWAY FOR NEVER WAVE GOODBYE. IF YOU HAVE NOT, YOU STILL CAN HERE AND THEN COME BACK AND ENTER FOR THIS EXTRA ENTRY

+1 MORE ENTRY: COMMENT ON WAY THAT YOU FOLLOW MY BLOG. IF YOU FOLLOW MORE THAN ONE WAY, COMMENT ON EACH WAY SEPARATELY.

GIVEAWAY ENDS AT
6 PM, EST, JUNE 12

102 comments:

debbie said...

It sounds like an interesting tale. I admit, I haven't read too many books with Russian characters.
twoofakind12@yahoo.com

debbie said...

I entered never wave goodbye.
twoofakind12@yahoo.com

debbie said...

I am a email subscriber.
twoofakind12@yahoo.com

debbie said...

I am a gfc follower
debbie
twoofakind12@yahoo.com

debbie said...

I learned her mother was listed as one of the forbes 100 mothers to emulate.
twoofakind12@yahoo.com

Tea said...

Vaclav's saying good night every night to the missing girl, Lena, for all those years is very moving. The heart of a child is huge.

teakettle58(at)yahoo(dot)com

Tea said...

Learned on Haley Tanner's blog she is listening to Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones. I finished the book last week. It is indeed wonderful.

Tea said...

I tweeted about the giveaway at http://twitter.com/topazshell5

Margie said...

This sounds like a wonderful book...unforgetable characters and beautiful writing. Steve's review made me want to pick up this book.
mtakala1 AT yahoo DOT com

Margie said...

emtered for Never Wave Goodbye
mtakala1 AT yahoo DOT com

Margie said...

follow by Networked Blogs
mtakala1 AT yahoo DOT com

Margie said...

email subscriber
mtakala1 AT yahoo DOT com

Margie said...

follower via GFC
mtakala1 AT yahoo DOT com

Margie said...

+5 Swag
mtakala1 AT yahoo DOT com

Margie said...

+5 June Facebook bonus
entry 1
mtakala1 AT yahoo DOT com

Margie said...

+5 June Facebook bonus
entry 2
mtakala1 AT yahoo DOT com

Margie said...

+5 June Facebook bonus
entry 3
mtakala1 AT yahoo DOT com

Margie said...

+5 June Facebook bonus
entry 4
mtakala1 AT yahoo DOT com

Margie said...

+5 June Facebook bonus
entry 5
mtakala1 AT yahoo DOT com

Karen B said...

Steve's high recommendation make it a must read for me. Thanks, Steve!

kpbarnett1941[at]aol.com

Karen B said...

Entered NEVER WAVE GOODBYE.

kpbarnett1941[at]aol.com

Karen B said...

Email subscriber.

kpbarnett1941[at]aol.com

Tore said...

I love to read this book. It sounds very interesting and good. I also have read books with russian characters. Please enter me in contest. Tore923@aol.com

Karen B said...

Facebook fan.

kpbarnett1941[at]aol.com

Karen B said...

GFC follower.

kpbarnett1941[at]aol.com

Karen B said...

+5 JUNE FACEBOOK - entry #1.

kpbarnett1941[at]aol.com

Karen B said...

+5 JUNE FACEBOOK - entry #2.

kpbarnett1941[at]aol.com

Karen B said...

+5 JUNE FACEBOOK - entry #3.

kpbarnett1941[at]aol.com

Karen B said...

+5 JUNE FACEBOOK - entry #4.

kpbarnett1941[at]aol.com

Karen B said...

+5 JUNE FACEBOOK - entry #5.

kpbarnett1941[at]aol.com

Connie said...

Hi! The storyline intrigued me when the girl Lena disappears. I would love to read it becuase I don't read many books involving Russian Characters. :)

aliasgirl1976@yahoo.com

Connie said...

I am a loyal GFC follower. :)

aliasgirl1976@yahoo.com

mamabunny13 said...

I like that the characters go all the way back to a childhood friendship.
mamabunny13 at gmail dot com

mamabunny13 said...

I learned she lives in Brooklyn with her rescued pug Mojini Jane and "Tennessee mutt", Ruthie Catfish.
mamabunny13 at gmail dot com

mamabunny13 said...

tweet http://twitter.com/#!/mamabunny13/status/76733157520588801
mamabunny13 at gmail dot com

mamabunny13 said...

I ENTERED THE GIVEAWAY FOR NEVER WAVE GOODBYE.
mamabunny13 at gmail dot com

mamabunny13 said...

I follow you via gfc
mamabunny13 at gmail dot com

mamabunny13 said...

I follow by email subscription
mamabunny13 at gmail dot com

mamabunny13 said...

I follow on twitter @mamabunny13
mamabunny13 at gmail dot com

mamabunny13 said...

I like you on facebook-mamabunny shelor
mamabunny13 at gmail dot com

mamabunny13 said...

I follow by reader
mamabunny13 at gmail dot com

mamabunny13 said...

I follow on networked blogs
mamabunny13 at gmail dot com

mamabunny13 said...

#1 June FB bonus
mamabunny13 at gmail dot com

mamabunny13 said...

#2 June FB bonus
mamabunny13 at gmail dot com

mamabunny13 said...

#3 June FB bonus
mamabunny13 at gmail dot com

mamabunny13 said...

#4 June FB bonus
mamabunny13 at gmail dot com

mamabunny13 said...

#5 June FB bonus
mamabunny13 at gmail dot com

Carol N Wong said...

The author has great story telling ability. I would like to see how the Russian accent is handled.

CarolNWong(at)aol(dot)com

Carol N Wong said...

Her husband recently went back to work after a six year battle with cancer.

CarolNWong(at)aol(dot)com

Carol N Wong said...

My Twitter name is Carolee888 and I tweeted:


http://bookinwithbingo.blogspot.com/2011/06/vaclav-and-lena-review-and-giveaway.html

CarolNWong(at)aol(dot)com

Carol N Wong said...

I did enter "Never Wave Goodbye'.

CarolNWong(at)aol(dot)com

Carol N Wong said...

I follow your blog with an e-mail subscription.


CarolNWong(at)aol(dot)com

Carol N Wong said...

I follow your blog with Facebook.


CarolNWong(at)aol(dot)com

Carol N Wong said...

I follow your blog with Networked Blogs.


CarolNWong(at)aol(dot)com

Carol N Wong said...

I follow your blog with an RSS feed on my IGoogle Page.


CarolNWong(at)aol(dot)com

Carol N Wong said...

I follow your blog with Twitter.


CarolNWong(at)aol(dot)com

Carol N Wong said...

I follow your blog with Google Friends Connect.


CarolNWong(at)aol(dot)com

lag123 said...

Gripping! Loved the review Steve! I can't wait to find out what happened to Lena.

lag110 at mchsi dot com

lag123 said...

Haley has a blank calendar for the month of June.....

lag110 at mchsi dot com

lag123 said...

Tweeted: http://twitter.com/lag32583/status/76774149854461952

lg110 at mchsi dot com

lag123 said...

Yes, I have entered the giveaway for Never Wave Goodbye.

lag110 at mchsi dot com

lag123 said...

I follow via GFC.

lag110 at mchsi dot com

lag123 said...

I subscribe via email.

lag110 at mchsi dot com

lag123 said...

I follow on FB: Lisa Holmes Garrett.

lag110 at mchsi dot com

lag123 said...

I follow on twitter: @lag32583

lag110 at mchsi dot com

lag123 said...

I follow via networked blogs.

lag110 at mchsi dot com

lag123 said...

I subscribe via google reader.

lag110 at mchsi dot com

Steve Capell said...

I am posting my comment to thank everyone for entering Karen's contest for this amazing novel. The lucky winner will fall in love with Vaclav and Lena. All is not lost if you do not win this book ... I would highly suggest you either purchase a copy or check with your public library. My library allows for input for suggested books so if your library needs to stock this book you should ask them if they would mind purchasing the book. Finally ... I checked the company where I order all my audio books and this book is in audio form as well. -- Now keep your fingers crossed and hopefully Bingo and her Bingo Buddy will pull your name of Vaclav's magical hat! Good LUCK!!

Steve

rubynreba said...

The book sounds wonderful and I want to find out where Lena mysteriously disappears to!
pbclark(at)netins(dot)net

rubynreba said...

I learned her husband battled cancer for 6 years.
pbclark(at)netins(dot)net

rubynreba said...

Entered Never Wave Goodbye
pbclark(at)netins(dot)net

rubynreba said...

Email subscriber
pbclark(at)netins(dot0net

rubynreba said...

GFC Follower
pbclark(at)netins(dot)net

rubynreba said...

Facebook Friend
pbclark(at)netins(dot)net

Linda Kish said...

I am curious to learn what Vaclav found out on Lena's 17th birthday.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Linda Kish said...

I entered the NEVER WAVE GOODBYE giveaway.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Linda Kish said...

I am an Email subscriber

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Linda Kish said...

I am a GFC follower

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Pamela Keener said...

I cannot imagine having a childhood friend one day and then poof w/o explanation she is gone. I too want to know what happened.
Love & Hugs,
Pam
pk4290(at)comcast(dot)net

Pamela Keener said...

I entered Never Wave Goodbye giveaway.
Love & Hugs,
Pam
pk4290(at)comcast(dot)net

Pamela Keener said...

I follow your blog via GFC
Love & Hugs,
Pam
pk4290(at)comcast(dot)net

Pamela Keener said...

I follow your blog via Google Reader
Love & Hugs,
Pam
pk4290(at)comcast(dot)net

Pamela Keener said...

I am an e-mailsubscriber to your blog.
Love & Hugs,
Pam
pk4290(at)comcast(dot)net

traveler said...

I would enjoy this wonderful story. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

traveler said...

I entered Never Wave Goodbye. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

traveler said...

I am an e-mail subscriber. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

traveler said...

The author lives in Brooklyn. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

traveler said...

I entered Never Wave Goodbye. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

petite said...

An exceptional story which would be memorable.rojosho(at)hotmail(dot)com

petite said...

I am a follower. rojosho(at)hotmail(dot)com

petite said...

Her father built their house. rojosho(at)hotmail(dot)com

petite said...

Entered Never Wave Goodbye. rojosho(at)hotmail(dot)com

bison61 said...

this book is truly magnificent-hope I win

tiramisu392 (at) yahoo.com

Bethie said...

I think it is interesting that this is about immigrant children. Very original.

lizzi0915 at aol dot com

Bethie said...

i follow on gfc

lizzi0915 at aol dot com

Bethie said...

I entered Never Wave goodbye

lizzi0915 at aol dot com

mamabunny13 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bloggingmom said...

This book sounds like an interesting and unusual tale that I would enjoy reading. Especially since it is about a missing child. I always hope for a good ending.

bloggingmom said...

Haley Tanner sounds like an interesting person. It is sad to me that she is so young and has already lost her husband to cancer. garczynski (at) aol (dot) com.

bloggingmom said...

I am an email subscriber.

bloggingmom said...

I like this blog on FB.

bloggingmom said...

I follow you on twitter. cpamom1959

CLICK HERE TO
SEE MY POLICY