I finished Vaclav and Lena by Haley Tanner on the bus to work this morning. As I read the last few pages, I was tearing up. Okay, crying. It was a mix of happy and sad, very similar to the feeling I had when I finished Extremely Loud and Incredible Close by Jonathan Safran Foer. Some of the same themes are present as well (young protagonists, a search, emotional trauma). The Publisher’s Weekly review of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close said this:
“Unafraid to show his traumatized characters’ constant groping for emotional catharsis, Foer demonstrates once again that he is one of the few contemporary writers willing to risk sentimentalism in order to address great questions of truth, love and beauty.”
This sentence is where the similarity lies. Vaclav and Lena takes risks to seek truth, love, and beauty. Sentiment and catharsis play a role, as they usually do. The result is lovely. Highly, highly recommended.