Excerpt from The Lullaby of Polish Girls by Dagmara Dominczyk, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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

The Lullaby of Polish Girls

by Dagmara Dominczyk

The Lullaby of Polish Girls by Dagmara Dominczyk X
The Lullaby of Polish Girls by Dagmara Dominczyk
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Jun 2013, 240 pages
    Paperback:
    Feb 2014, 256 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Poornima Apte

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

"Well, I'm always up for a challenge."

Those words echo in her head like a scratch on a beat-up record. Three years ago tonight, Anna and two friends had wandered into the Turkey's Nest because their fingers were numb from the cold, and there was Ben, in that blue sweater, with an eager smile. But that Ben is gone now. He's in Omaha with Nancy and Pappy and his innumerable cousins. Ben is only gone for another day, and yet, somehow, it feels like he is gone for good.

Standing by the window, Anna can see her breath. Her flimsy T-shirt, the one she's had on for days now—Ben's old Lynyrd Skynyrd one, with the neck cut out—fails miserably to keep her warm. Man-hattan glimmers past McCarren Park, its peaks and pinnacles glimmering like man-made constellations, like something from the future. It's beautiful, but under a blanket of snow, New York would become even more so, turning twinkly and old-timey. This concrete mess with towers sprouting like beanstalks, with subways zigzagging and crowded streets teeming with grime—all of it would be obliterated.

Anna steps back from the window, but leaves it open; she can't smoke in an enclosed space. Hipokryta, her father would have said. She is a hypocrite, dissecting everything, especially the things that bring her pleasure. Her father, on the other hand, would lie in bed, chewing saltwater taffy, reading his Polish newspaper till three a.m., and chain-smoking More Reds, as her mother silently suffered beside him. Her father, who, every so often, threatened to hang himself.

"You're a refugee? You sure don't look like a refugee," Ben had said, eyeing her naked body supine next to his.

"Daughter of a refugee, if you wanna get technical. The Commies ousted my dad years ago. I was seven."

"The Commies. Sounds so . . ."

"Dated?" Anna reached her hand toward his pretty American face.

"Sexy."

Anna places the ashtray on her lap, hugging it gently between her thighs. Cardboard boxes stare at her from every corner, massacred by cheap utility tape. Months have passed since she and Ben moved into their new apartment, but the boxes remain untouched. She remembers that the super is stopping by today to fix the refrigerator door.

Anna's head hurts. Her nose is stuffy. The corner of her bottom lip is hot and itchy, a sure sign of a cold sore brewing. There is a weird throbbing pain near her right shoulder blade, which has come and gone intermittently during the last few weeks, and which Anna suspects might be lung cancer. Ben calls her a "raging hypochondriac," and he's right.

When Ben left for the airport five days ago, he begged Anna to join him. It was their tradition: Thanksgiving in Omaha.

"Come with me. Don't you miss my mom's stuffing? She misses you, Annie."

"I can't fly, Ben. You know that."

"Then let's rent a car and make a road trip out of it."

"I can't, Ben," she said and turned away from him.

Ben's mother, Nancy, always sported Birkenstocks and smelled like patchouli. She had long gray hair and all-knowing eyes that—Anna was sure—could see right through you. Nancy loved Anna from the beginning, and was always begging her and Ben to "have a kid already, wedlock, schmedlock!" So, what would Nancy do if Anna showed up in her current state—slightly overweight and depressed? What would Anna say to her? Missed you, Nan, but I've been real busy, what with the auditions and abortions. It was too soon to face Nancy; the shame Anna felt was too much.

Ben had called from the airport. Even though things were strained between them, Anna had still wanted him to call her just before takeoff, in case anything happened. Since 9/11, she'd only flown twice—once to LA for a last-minute audition, and once to St. Thomas with Ben. Both times, her heart was in her throat. Anna shuffled down the aisle with her collection of crucifixes in her palm, relics from Catholic schoolgirl days, and her dad's old chain with the Polish Black Madonna medallion around her neck. She scanned her fellow passengers for dark bearded faces (it was fucked up but true), and didn't say amen till the wheels touched the tarmac again.

Excerpted from The Lullaby of Polish Girls by Dagmara Dominczyk. Copyright © 2013 by Dagmara Dominczyk. Excerpted by permission of Spiegel & Grau. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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:
  The City of Kielce

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    Wolf Season
    by Helen Benedict
    Rin Drummond's nicknames include "Pit Bull" and "Dragon." She's a tough-as-nails Iraq War ...
  • Book Jacket: La Belle Sauvage
    La Belle Sauvage
    by Philip Pullman
    Voted 2017 Best Young Adult Novel by BookBrowse's Subscribers

    I wasn't quite sure what to expect ...
  • Book Jacket: Leonardo da Vinci
    Leonardo da Vinci
    by Walter Isaacson
    The name Leonardo da Vinci is one of the most recognized in all of Western history, and his ...
  • Book Jacket: The Immortalists
    The Immortalists
    by Chloe Benjamin
    On a summer day in 1969 in New York City, the Gold children agree to seek out a mysterious ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig

A story that is at once quirky, charming, heartbreaking, suspenseful and poignant.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Days When Birds Come Back
    by Deborah Reed

    A graceful testament to endurance, rebuilding, and the possibilities of coming home.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win Mothers of Sparta

Mothers of Sparta: A Memoir

A dazzling literary memoir with shades of Mary Karr, Anne Lamott and Jenny Lawson.

Enter

Word Play

Sorry, we do not currently have an active wordplay!

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.