Monday, September 12, 2011

Vaclav & Lena

The only (free) copy of Haley Tanner's Vaclav & Lena I could get my hands on was the audio book. I’ve never been a fan of audio books outside of road trips. I have a hard time staying focused on the story and often find myself irritated with the choice of reader.

Vaclav & Lena was no exception. The reader, Kirby Heyborne, is a local “celebrity,” and I found his voice both distracting and annoying. Yet, I also found myself looking for opportunities to listen to the book. Generally, cooking/cleaning is my NPR time, but I forfeited my news to listen to Vaclav and Lena’s epic love story.

The book encompasses a lot and a little at the same time. It takes place over a brief time when the title characters are children and again when they are teenagers, but what those times represent is significant in both their struggles for identity. Vaclav and Lena are immigrants to the US from Russia and meet in ESL class: Vaclav’s parents brought him to the US for a better life; Lena isn’t even sure who her parents are.

I was attracted to this book because of my experience in Eastern Europe and as an ESL teacher, but anyone who has experienced love, change, and hurt can certainly relate to these characters.

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