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Vaclav & Lena
By Haley Tanner
(The Dial Press, $25)

Vaclav and Lena, Russian immigrants transplanted to Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach, meet as kindergartners and instantly hit it off. Vaclav, an aspiring magician, and Lena, a neglected child who finds warmth in Vaclav and his zaftig mother, spend their days planning the magic shows they hope to perform one day at Coney Island. Then Lena disappears, leaving Vaclav pining for answers. First-time novelist Haley Tanner creates characters that live beyond the page in this heartbreaking but adorable debut, displaying an ear for dialogue and a talent for capturing the subtle humor that abounds in this Russian émigré community.