Reading guide for Vaclav & Lena by Haley Tanner

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Vaclav & Lena

A Novel

by Haley Tanner

Vaclav & Lena by Haley Tanner X
Vaclav & Lena by Haley Tanner
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    May 2011, 304 pages
    Paperback:
    Feb 2012, 320 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Elizabeth Whitmore Funk

Buy This Book

About this Book

Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

  1. Discuss the relationships between storytelling, lies, and magic in Vaclav & Lena. How do these concepts interact in the novel's climax?


  2. Lena's disappearance is a sore point between Vaclav and Rasia. Do you think Rasia made the right choice by remaining silent about it?


  3. Early in the book, Vaclav has a tremendous amount of confidence in himself and in his future as a magician. Do you think this is merely naïveté, or is it a necessary attribute for someone to make their dreams come true?


  4. Discuss the challenges of immigration in the book. How does language play a role in assimilation for Vaclav and Lena? How does Rasia try to connect with her Americanized son?


  5. Rasia and her husband, Oleg, seem to have had very different experiences in immigrating to America. What factors have contributed to this difference in their experience?


  6. How would you describe the dynamics of Vaclav and Lena's relationship at the start of the novel? How do those dynamics shift when Lena becomes friends with the popular crowd and Vaclav volunteers to do her homework for her? How do they shift again when Vaclav and Lena reconnect as teenagers?


  7. Discuss the novel's settings. How does the Russian émigré community of Brighton Beach have an effect on Vaclav and Lena? How does the fantastical world of Coney Island?


  8. How would you describe the nature of Rasia's relationship with Lena?


  9. In reporting Lena's situation to the authorities, is Rasia acting solely in Lena's best interest, or might she be acting to protect her son?


  10. Why do you think Vaclav, at seventeen, resists sex with his girlfriend?


  11. Discuss the chapter headings. How do they interact with the rest of the text?


  12. How does Lena's trauma manifest itself when she is a child? A teenager? Do you think her wounds can be healed?


  13. Ekaterina tells Vaclav that she did the best she could for Lena. Do you think this is true?
Free Book Club Report

Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Dial Press. Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  Coney Island

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: American Histories
    American Histories
    by John E. Wideman
    In American Histories, a collection of 21 short stories, John Edgar Wideman draws America's present ...
  • Book Jacket: I Found My Tribe
    I Found My Tribe
    by Ruth Fitzmaurice
    Ruth O'Neill was only 28 when she married film director Simon Fitzmaurice in 2004. Changing her...
  • Book Jacket: The Art of the Wasted Day
    The Art of the Wasted Day
    by Patricia Hampl
    Patricia Hampl wants you to know that daydreaming is not a waste of a day. Nor is spending time ...
  • Book Jacket: Circe
    Circe
    by Madeline Miller
    Towards the end of Madeline Miller's novel Circe, the titular nymph is questioned by her son ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
Music of the Ghosts by Vaddey Ratner

A love story for things lost and restored, a lyrical hymn to the power of forgiveness.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Girl Who Smiled Beads
    by Clemantine Wamariya

    A riveting story of dislocation, survival, and the power of stories to break or save us.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Leavers

The Leavers by Lisa Ko

One of the most anticipated books of 2017--now in paperback!

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

T E H N Clothes

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.