Customer Reviews for

Vaclav and Lena

Average Rating 4
( 37 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 37 Customer Reviews
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  • Posted May 15, 2011

    Not just a love story - it goes deeper than that!

    I received this book as an ARC through Shelf Awareness. I immediately wanted to read it, because it sounded like such a sweet story, but it goes a lot deeper than just a romance between two people. Vaclav and Lena were first forced together when they were young, neither one really having any friends. Their imperfect English held them back from fully connecting with the American kids they went to school with. However, when they were together, they knew that the other would accept them unconditionally. It was easy to how much Vaclav adored Lena and that he would do anything for her. It was obvious that Lena cared for Vaclav as well, but her shocking and appalling home life made her extremely introverted; it was as if she had a wall up, even around her best friend, Vaclav. I could sense that there was something darker going on in Lena's home life that wasn't coming to light at the beginning, something more awful than just being left to fend for herself all of the time. My heart broke when Lena disappeared from Vaclav's life. She was his world, his sun and she was simply ripped away from him. No goodbyes, no finality. Just left to wonder if he would ever see her again.

    The first part of the book went between telling the story from Vaclav and Lena's perspectives. I liked that, as it was nice to get a glimpse into what both of them were going through (although like I said, Lena remained somewhat of a mystery). The middle of the book takes place 7 years later and it is split up into two parts: Lena's story and Vaclav's story. This gives a lot more insight into Lena's life, especially in the time when she was very young, before she even met Vaclav. I think the sweetest thing is that even after all of that time, Vaclav still said goodnight to Lena, every single night. He was afraid that if he stopped doing so something bad would happen to her. Even after all of the time they spent apart, she was still the last thing he thought about before he went to bed.

    Each section of the book is split up into little chapters. I liked the cute, descriptive chapter names (you'll see what I mean when you read it!) and I loved how short the chapters were. They were each like little stories all in their own. The last part of the book reveals a lot of answers I had been waiting for the whole time and that is why I'm not going to go into too much more detail about the book.

    I do want to share one of my favorite quotes from the book (however, keep in mind that I read the ARC, so things might be different in the finished copy):

    "Vaclav had already known that she was sitting there before he even saw her. He had felt her looking at him, He had known it was her, had to be her, because he felt, suddenly, the compulsion to turn and look at that bench, to look in her direction, like there were magnets in his eyes and she was a supermagnetized hunk of some other planet, just fallen to earth."

    This was a wonderful book, showing how love can withstand space and time. It also shows how childhood can shape a person, for better or worse. I definitely recommend giving this book a chance; it's a fairly quick read, especially since I couldn't put it down, and it was impossible not to feel for the characters and fall in love with them.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 6, 2011

    I really enjoyed this book about two young Russian children who find a "home" in each other's hearts.

    She is 9, he is 10. They speak in the tongue of foreigners, translating their thoughts directly to English so that the grammar is sometimes convoluted, but the meaning comes through. Although it begins as a kismet-type love story, a deeper story soon develops alongside. When the story begins, Lena is living with an aunt; she seems rather neglected and frail, often left alone. Her origins are unknown. Her past is fraught with dysfunction, and she eventually finds ways to separate herself into many parts in order to survive. Vaclav lives in a more normal environment with two loving parents. Before Lena's arrival, his one true love was magic. Afterwards, they both proceed to explore that world together, as their friendship grows. His mom is the stronger of his two parents and is the major breadwinner. She often assumes responsibility for Lena and tries to protect her. She will do anything to protect her son, as well, and tries to provide him with opportunities she never had, stressing his need for a good education. His father is often crude and sometimes cruel and sarcastic. He was not successful as an architect, even back in Russia. He is not very ambitious and tends to laziness. Vaclav is an easily likeable character who is warm, open and obedient; Lena is a sympathetic, sad little character who is immature, often secretive. Lena has the capacity to be cruel while Vaclav does not. Both seem very naïve about life and the pitfalls they might face. I found, also, that the author often provided them with thoughts that seemed too mature for them, even as they behaved like children. Two small Russian children are trying to make a life for themselves in a new country that they know nothing about. They are not even comfortable with the language. How can they fit? There are only a few people they can communicate with, and sometimes it is awkward because of the phraseology they choose as they learn to speak English. The short, vignette-type chapters are easy to read and keep the momentum going in this tale of love and loss, hardship and poverty. The story of how these immigrant families navigate the world is sometimes tender, sometimes anxious and often disturbing, but always underneath, the theme is that Vaclav and Lena are in love. The author has presented an interesting, creative scenario. I was surprised, at first, by the way the content was presented; it seemed juvenile, but the concepts were not. In the end, it all fit in and you discover you have just read a fairy tale told with modern day issues at the core. The story is a testament to the power of love. It could possibly be a selection for young adults too, as well as adults, since there is nothing terribly overt, even when tales of abuse are related. Descriptions of sex and wrongdoing are dealt with very simply as are most of the more mature concepts in the tale. I am not sure this book is for everyone. For me, it was an excellent selection. It completely held my interest, and although it was simplistic, it was a perfect fit for the development of this novel and its purpose. I do think that the cover could be more interesting. If I did not receive the book from the publisher, it would never have caught my eye. Surely, even a picture of two children holding hands might be more interesting then simply the title of the book with a picture of birds sitting on the ampersand. I think perhaps it was meant to present the fairy tale image from the get-go, but that didn't work for me.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2012

    Incredible

    This book was such a joy reading. Sadness, joy, and love. How a girl with such a troubled childhood could grow to be so smart and strong. You should absolutely read this!!!!!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 16, 2012

    Touching story

    I enjoyed reading this book very much its a great story with parts that moved me and parts that msde me laugh. I recommend it

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 14, 2012

    Beautufuly Beautifully written

    I loved this read. I heard a review of this book on NPR and I too won't soon forget Vaclav and Lena.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 8, 2011

    Beautifully written Beautifully written

    Its a story youll want to recommend to all your friends!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 13, 2011

    Sad but sweet

    I honestly wouldn't have read this book if the publisher didn't send an advance copy to my house. The description on the back was pretty vague but I decided to read it anyway. I ended up really liking it. I was disappointed in the ending because I felt it was really rushed. Since the characters are Russian, the dialog is in broken English, which I find very charming to read.

    This book is about a boy and a girl who are best friends when they are young. Vaclav and his parents move to America from Russia when he is very young. Lena is the daughter of Russian parents who has been in America since she was a baby but is unsure who her parents are. She has lived with an old woman she calls a grandmother but is not related. When the old woman dies she moves in with her aunt who neglects her. Things start to change when Lena begins to make new friends at school and it is heartbreaking to Vaclav since she is his only friend. Even though she starts ignoring him, he doesn't give up on her. One day Lena disappears out of Vaclav's life only to reappear seven years later. Finally Vaclav finds out the truth surrounding her disappearance and Lena's troubled childhood. The love they have survives after being separated all these years.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 4, 2011

    Wonderful!

    Wonderfully fresh!! Wonderfully original!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2011

    Highy recommend this book

    A beautiful and captivating book that goes much deeper than the typical love story. Amazing book!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 27, 2014

    Holy Cannoli

    So I was assigned to read this book this summer and I have to say it was a pretty good book. It kept me at the edge of my seat because I was dying to know what would happen next. Everyohe should absouletly read it.

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  • Posted March 22, 2013

    I am listening to the book after first reading the first few cha

    I am listening to the book after first reading the first few chapters, and enjoy hearing the Russian accents to tell the story and the pronunciations of some of the names, etc. It is really a touching story and the characters are well presented and real.

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    Posted November 20, 2011

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