A vibrant, engaging debut novel that follows the friendship of three women from their youthful days in Poland to their complicated, not-quite-successful adult lives.
Because of her father's role in the Solidarity movement, Anna and her parents immigrate to the United States in the 1980s as political refugees from Poland. They settle in Brooklyn among immigrants of every stripe, yet Anna never quite feels that she belongs. But then, the summer she turns twelve, she is sent back to Poland to visit her grandmother, and suddenly she experiences the shock of recognition. In her family's hometown of Kielce, Anna develops intense friendships with two local girls - brash and beautiful Justyna and desperately awkward Kamila - and their bond is renewed every summer when Anna returns. The Lullaby of Polish Girls follows these three best friends from their early teenage years on the lookout for boys in Kielce - a town so rough its citizens are called "the switchblades" - to the loss of innocence that wrecks them, and the stunning murder that reaches across oceans to bring them back together after they've grown and long since left home.
Dagmara Dominczyk's assured narrative flashes from the wild summers of the girls' youth to their years of self-discovery in New York and Europe. Her writing is full of grit and guts, and her descriptions of the emotional experiences of her characters resonate with honesty. The Lullaby of Polish Girls captures the passion and drama of friendship, the immigrant's yearning to be known, and the exquisite and wistful transformation of young women coming of age.
Dominczyk's weakness lies in story development. While she is skilled at building characters, the story that binds them together seems overly contrived at times, eventually barreling into a pretty melodramatic conclusion. Nevertheless The Lullaby of Polish Girls is worth reading for its strong sense of place and the light it shines on the bittersweet process of growing up and moving on. (Reviewed by Poornima Apte).
Dominczyk writes knowingly of the issues faced by first-generation Americans and their problematic ties to the home country.
Alternating chapters sharing the characters' teenage exploits are fresh and revelatory, while their intense bond, complicated by petty slights and the discoveries of late-night conversations, enlivens the somewhat prosaic arcs of their present-day plight.
It is easy to believe that the film rights to this cinematic story have already been sold. While its descriptions of emotions and dramatic events sometimes venture into soap opera territory, this debut is not to be missed. Recommended for fans of Gary Shteyngart (The Russian Debutante's Handbook) and other modern novels of the expatriate experience in America.
Starred Review. In this arresting debut novel, Polish American film and TV actress Dominczyk (Higher Ground, The Count of Monte Cristo, The Good Wife, Third Watch) pays homage to her native city of Kielce while capturing the joys, insecurities, and struggles of three girlfriends coming-of-age.
Emma Straub, author of Laura Lamont's Life in Pictures The Lullaby of Polish Girls is a striking and vivid debut novel, absolutely buzzing with energy. Dagmara Dominczyk's freshly observed story about the intertwined lives of three friends is both sexy and sensitive, with a raw, openhearted center. Dominczyk's love for her complicated characters is apparent from the first page to the last, and by the novel's end the reader cares for them just as deeply.
Adriana Trigiani, author of The Shoemaker's Wife The Lullaby of Polish Girls will make you swoon. Dagmara Dominczyk has written a glorious debut novel inspired by her own emigration from Poland to Brooklyn with depth, intensity, humor, and grace. Dagmara is a natural-born storyteller. I'm crazy about this book, and I know you will be too.
Much of The Lullaby of Polish Girls is set in the Polish city of Kielce (pronounced Kyell-tsay). The author, Dagmara Dominczyk, is a native of the city and she paints a beautiful picture of Kielce, not just of its tourist attractions but of small draws favored by locals like the Relaks cafe where "families and tourists flooded the place on weekends, lounging on blankets, renting kayaks, and taking strolls uphill to the Relaks for cold beer and French fries that were served in cone-shaped napkins with tiny plastic forks."
With a population of a little more than 200,000, the city is located to the south of the capital, Warsaw, and is the capital of the Swietokrzyskie voivodship (province). Kielce is known for its scenic vistas, as it is at the foot of the Swietokrzyskie (Shwee-yentok-sheskee) (Holy Cross) mountains, one of the oldest mountain chains in Europe....
From the New York Times bestselling author of On Mystic Lake comes a powerful novel of love, loss, and the magic of friendship. . . .
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