Vaclav and Lena

By Lauren Gniazdowski, Assistant Editor, Reader’s Digest magazine

fifth witness book cover

In her first novel, Haley Tanner takes us to Brighton Beach, Brooklyn and introduces us to Vaclav and Lena, two best-friend Russian immigrant kids who, even as youngsters, recognize that they’re in love with each other. The pair dreams of performing a magic show on the Coney Island boardwalk — Vaclav is a hard-working aspiring magician and Lena is his shy assistant — but just as they’re set to make their debut, Lena vanishes. In the years that follow, Vaclav never stops wondering where Lena could be. Then, on her seventeenth birthday, the truth is revealed. Page after page, Tanner pulls us into their story of love, loss, friendship, and the sometimes-harsh reality that goes along with it all.