The Lullaby of Polish Girls

( 3 )

Overview

Includes an interview featuring Dagmara Dominczyk and Adriana Trigiani

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 ...

See more details below
Paperback (Reprint)
$13.00
BN.com price
(Save 18%)$16.00 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (18) from $8.91   
  • New (14) from $8.91   
  • Used (4) from $9.23   
The Lullaby of Polish Girls: A Novel

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$11.99
BN.com price

Overview

Includes an interview featuring Dagmara Dominczyk and Adriana Trigiani

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.
 
Praise for The Lullaby of Polish Girls

“A coming-of-age tale of three young Polish women [that is] brimming with teary epiphanies, betrayal and love, as well as the grit of both New York and Kielce. [It’s] Girls with a Polish accent.”—The New York Times

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.”—Adriana Trigiani

“An ennui-stricken actress returns to the old country—and to the friends of her youth—in Dagmara Dominczyk’s The Lullaby of Polish Girls, in which solidarity is all about summer evenings under the stars with a vodka bottle and a radio playing ‘Forever Young.’ ”Vogue
 
“Compelling . . . an original portrait of friendship and identity . . . Dominczyk uses a fresh, confident style.”People
 
“In this arresting debut novel, Polish American film and TV actress Dominczyk pays homage to her native city of Kielce while capturing the joys, insecurities, and struggles of three girlfriends coming of age. Spanning thirteen years, Dominczyk’s absorbing story is a triptych of tsknota (Polish for a kind of yearning) and a profound desire for acceptance, freedom, and home.”Booklist (starred review)
 
The Lullaby of Polish Girls is 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.”—Emma Straub

Look for special features inside. Join the Random House Reader's Circle for author chats and more.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“A coming-of-age tale of three young Polish women [that is] brimming with teary epiphanies, betrayal and love, as well as the grit of both New York and Kielce. [It’s] Girls with a Polish accent.”—The New York Times

“An ennui-stricken actress returns to the old country—and to the friends of her youth—in Dagmara Dominczyk’s The Lullaby of Polish Girls, in which solidarity is all about summer evenings under the stars with a vodka bottle and a radio playing ‘Forever Young.’ ”Vogue
 
“Compelling . . . an original portrait of friendship and identity . . . Dominczyk uses a fresh, confident style.”People (3-1/2 stars)
 
“In this arresting debut novel, Polish American film and TV actress Dominczyk pays homage to her native city of Kielce while capturing the joys, insecurities, and struggles of three girlfriends coming of age. Spanning thirteen years, Dominczyk’s absorbing story is a triptych of tsknota (Polish for a kind of yearning) and a profound desire for acceptance, freedom, and home.”Booklist (starred review)
 
“Fresh and revelatory.”Publishers Weekly
 
“The narrative moves around seamlessly in both time and place, from Europe to Greenpoint, a Polish neighborhood in New York City’s Brooklyn, and to the Midwest. The cast of characters is equally broad in scope, yet each one is richly imagined. . . . This debut is not to be missed.”Library Journal

"Captivating . . . There's an honesty and realism to the writing and emotions."—The Star Ledger

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.”—Emma Straub, author of Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures
 
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.”—Adriana Trigiani, author of The Shoemaker’s Wife

From the Publisher
“A coming-of-age tale of three young Polish women [that is] brimming with teary epiphanies, betrayal and love, as well as the grit of both New York and Kielce. [It’s] Girls with a Polish accent.”—The New York Times

“An ennui-stricken actress returns to the old country—and to the friends of her youth—in Dagmara Dominczyk’s The Lullaby of Polish Girls, in which solidarity is all about summer evenings under the stars with a vodka bottle and a radio playing ‘Forever Young.’ ”Vogue
 
“Compelling . . . an original portrait of friendship and identity . . . Dominczyk uses a fresh, confident style.”People (3-1/2 stars)
 
“In this arresting debut novel, Polish American film and TV actress Dominczyk pays homage to her native city of Kielce while capturing the joys, insecurities, and struggles of three girlfriends coming of age. Spanning thirteen years, Dominczyk’s absorbing story is a triptych of tsknota (Polish for a kind of yearning) and a profound desire for acceptance, freedom, and home.”Booklist (starred review)
 
“Fresh and revelatory.”Publishers Weekly
 
“The narrative moves around seamlessly in both time and place, from Europe to Greenpoint, a Polish neighborhood in New York City’s Brooklyn, and to the Midwest. The cast of characters is equally broad in scope, yet each one is richly imagined. . . . This debut is not to be missed.”Library Journal

"Captivating . . . There's an honesty and realism to the writing and emotions."—The Star Ledger

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.”—Emma Straub, author of Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures
 
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.”—Adriana Trigiani, author of The Shoemaker’s Wife

Publishers Weekly
This gossipy, feisty debut by actress Dominczyk (The Good Wife; 24) follows a trio of friends across decades and the Iron Curtain, from Communist Poland to adulthood in the U.S. Thinking back on her adolescence, Anna Baran remembers how her immigrant parents sent her back to Poland to their hometown of Kielce every summer, where she, Justyna, and Kamila flirted with boys, ran around unsupervised, and heard each other’s dearest confessions. Adulthood has proved disappointing for all of them: after a breakout performance, Anna’s acting career has stalled, with her agent appealing to her to lose weight, while Kamila has left an unhappy marriage to live with her parents in Detroit and work as a nanny. When Anna, preparing to spend Thanksgiving in Brooklyn without her boyfriend, Ben, hears that Justyna has been left alone in Kielce with her young child after husband Pawel’s murder, she decides she has no choice but to return. 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. Agent: Laura Nolan, Paradigm Talent Agency. (June)
Library Journal
Three girlfriends from Poland make their way in America—a story Dominczyk comes by naturally, as she had to emigrate here in 1983 owing to her father's involvement in Solidarity. Actress Dominczyk is planning on a feature film.
Kirkus Reviews
Three girls across two continents face issues of growing up, most particularly sexual relationships and the volatile nature of friendship. In 2002, Anna Baran is living in Brooklyn when she learns of the sudden and violent death of the husband of Justyna, a friend who still lives in Poland. The third friend in the triumvirate is Kamila, living in a Polish neighborhood in Wyandotte, Mich., and grateful to be separated from Emil, her Polish husband. (Kamila had always been a bit put off by Emil's reticence, but she's recently discovered his libido is directed toward other males rather than toward her.) Dominczyk then moves readers back to 1989, when Anna was almost 13 and visiting Poland for the second time. (Her father, Radoslaw, is a political émigré who's not allowed to return to the mother country.) That summer remains memorable for Anna since she establishes contact with the girls who were the daughters of her mother's best friends, since she immediately falls in love with handsome Sebastian Tefilski, and since she's labeled a spoiled American. The narrative chronology continues to shift between Polish and American venues, as Anna eventually becomes a Hollywood film star, still visiting Poland in her time off. She also becomes romantically involved with Ben Taft and is seeking a way, either gracefully or not, to bring the relationship to a close. Anna, Justyna and Kamila grow from adolescence to womanhood with a shared intimacy, facing predictable problems (boys, distance) that intervene to sometimes weaken and sometimes strengthen their bonds. Dominczyk writes knowingly of the issues faced by first-generation Americans and their problematic ties to the home country.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780812983821
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 2/25/2014
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 318,347
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.52 (d)

Meet the Author

Dagmara Dominczyk was born in Poland and immigrated to New York City at the age of seven. She has acted in numerous films, TV series, and plays. She is married to the actor Patrick Wilson, with whom she has two sons. She lives in New Jersey.

Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

2002

Anna

Greenpoint, Brooklyn

Looking back, Anna Baran could pinpoint the exact moment she’d fallen in love with Ben Taft. They were lying on his mattress, covers thrown off and sharing a cigarette, when Anna closed her eyes and asked him the question she’d been wanting to ask for weeks.

“Did you ever imagine you’d end up with a Polish girl?”

Ben looked at her and arched one eyebrow. “In bed? Or in life?” Anna blushed, but thankfully Ben continued. “Never. I didn’t even know where Poland was on the map.”

“And now?” Anna whispered, placing her hands between his warm thighs.

“Now? Now I know there’s a lot more to your country than meets the kiełbasa.”

Anna rolled her eyes but silently urged him on, hoping he would get it right.

“I know Warsaw isn’t the only city there. I know not every last name ends in -ski. The language is tough as hell but I could listen to it all day. It’s the land of amber, crystal, salt mines, and revolutionaries. And I know that the oldest oak tree in Poland is located near your hometown and that they named it Bart. There. How’s that?”

“Da˛b Bartek,” Anna whispered, feeling tingly, as if he had been talking dirty. Ben went on about Solidarity and Swedish deluges, about pierogi and the Pope, about Communism and cleaning ladies. Anna interrupted him at a certain point with a kiss. “Kocham cie˛, Ben,” she said, and he didn’t have to speak the language to know what she meant. But that night was years ago, and it felt as far off as the goddamn stars in the sky.

At 3:57 a.m., Anna wakes up from a bad dream. Something about the Gestapo and a defunct Captain Video—the place she used to rent VHS tapes from as a girl. She stumbles out of bed and walks into the living room, shuffling blindly toward the ashtray. The familiar stench of yesterday’s chain-smoking leads her to the corner of the couch, where an ashtray sits on top of Ben’s old throw pillow. Her eyeglasses are nowhere to be found, but how can she look for them when she can’t see a damn thing, when her own hand in front of her eyes is nothing but a blur? Anna wonders briefly if she might actually be legally blind and if there is a way she can get tested without having to leave the apartment. With fumbling fingers, she extracts one third of what used to be a handsome Marlboro Light from the ashtray, retrieves a Bic from under the couch, lights the stale tip, and walks over to open a window. The November wind slaps at her face, but it feels good, a shock to the system, and her eyes water from the cold.

Lorimer Street must be empty; she can tell from the dead silence, her ears doing the work her eyes can’t. While most New Yorkers dream of white winters in theory, Anna pines for snow and means it. It smells like winter out there, crisp and clean, though there’s no sign of snow yet.

“We’re a dying breed.” That was Ben’s opening line, on the first night they met, when Anna had walked up to him and asked him for a light. He extended his Zippo toward her and she arched her eyebrows and smiled, smitten right away. Two drinks later, they were making out by the coat check, waiting impatiently for their scarves and hats.

“So you’re a New Yorker, huh?” Ben asked, when they stepped into his apartment a half hour later. Signs of three young men living on their own were everywhere, but Ben didn’t seem embarrassed by the mess and his roommates were nowhere in sight. Ben and Anna sat on the dirty floor and made small talk.

“By way of Kielce, Poland, my friend—the birthplace of Polish rap,” Anna said. “We’re known in Polska as the scyzoryki—the switchblades. And you don’t wanna fuck with us.” Ben laughed as he drummed the side of his beer can.

“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.

Ben is flying back home today. Back to what, Anna doesn’t know. What can she offer him anymore? In the beginning she offered him exotic tales of growing up in the Flatbush projects, tales of a homely little Polish immigrant. She offered him daily blow jobs and Thai take-out every night. She offered him her world, a world of small but incomparable measure, a world where tanks rolled in the streets, where armed milicja jailed idealistic young men who fought for their freedom as their fathers and grandfathers had before them. She offered romance; it was all so incredibly romantic—the turmoil of a foreign country recounted by a Slavic-looking Marilyn Monroe.

In turn, Ben offered her a version of the New World, the uncomplicated pleasure of a boy who came from the average middle class. “I’ve got four brothers,” he told her that first night, as the sun was coming up. “Jonah, Jefferson, Simon, and Samuel.” Anna swooned over the Midwestern musicality of their names. She repeated the names in her melodious voice, tinged with the slightest trace of an Eastern European accent, as if reciting a stanza of an Emerson poem.

“Anna Baran ain’t bad either.”

“Well, it could have been Z•dzisława.” Anna laughed when Ben tried to repeat the word, his tongue twisting in on itself, his jaw clenched.

Last Monday, Anna had locked the door behind Ben and prepared for total isolation till his return. There would be no Thanksgiving in New York, but then again, there never had been. Her parents didn’t partake in the turkey. Her father was firm in that regard. “I steal land from the Indian, I rob his everything and put him on casino war camps and now I eat like pig to celebrate? No fuck way!” So there was no one to bother her and she was free to smoke 147 cigarettes, take one shower, and come to the realization that Ben’s absence has not brought fondness or longing, just dread.

At four-twenty a.m., the phone rings. The ashtray balancing on Anna’s lap flies in the air and spills all over the couch. She scrambles to the table on the other side of the room. A phone call at four in the morning can mean only a few things. Dad, Anna thinks, it’s Tato.

“Hello?”

“Ania! Oh, Ania . . . !” Her mother, Paulina, is wailing on the other end, and Anna’s heart explodes upon direct contact with the sound, a sound that pierces the silence of the room and has no business infiltrating the hush of night in such a sudden, earsplitting manner.

“What is it? Oh God, Mamo, what is it?”

“He’s dead! O mój Boz˙e, Anna, he’s dead.” This is the phone call that Anna’s been waiting for since she was thirteen, waiting for on subways, in school halls, while playing Chinese jump rope, or taking a bath, or biting her nails like a zombie in front of the TV while her mother paced the dining room waiting for her father, Radosław, to turn up.

“How did he do it?” she hears herself asking before it all has sunk in.

“He didn’t do it. Filip did it!” Anna’s breath slows down and the walls stop closing in.

“Who’s Filip?” Her mother is still crying, loudly, incessantly—and right now, in the midst of obvious confusion, it’s infuriating Anna.

“Filip, Elwira’s boyfriend! Anna, who do you think I’m talking about?” Anna doesn’t answer but her mother thankfully plows on. “Justyna’s husband is dead, he was murdered last night, in his own house. By his sister-in-law’s boyfriend. Can you believe it?”

“Poczekaj! Wait. Just wait a fucking second, Mother! Just hold on, okay?” Anna breathes slowly, rearranging her thoughts, smoothing down the tabletop with her hand as she does. “Justyna? From Kielce?”

“Yes! Jesus, how many Justynas do you know? Her husband was stabbed in the middle of the night. Justyna’s a widow. A twenty-six-year-old widow . . .” And now her mother is whimpering, mewling like an injured cat.

“Wow.”

“Wow?!! Wow!!??”

“What, Mamo? What do you want me to say? It’s four in the morning. You caught me off guard—”

“Well, I’m sorry if this isn’t a convenient time to tell you that your best friend’s husband was just murdered—”

“She was my best friend. She was.”

“Oh, Jezus, Anka, really?”

“It’s horrible. It’s horrible, but I thought you were . . .”

“Were what?”

“Nothing. How did you find out?”

“Her dad called me from Poland. I have to go now. Their poor mother is turning over in her grave. Please call Justyna. When you stop crying, call her.” There are tears running down Anna’s face, her neck. How can that be? she asks herself again, and then the dial tone signals her to hang up the phone and ask stupid questions later.

Kamila

Wyandotte, Michigan

They call it Downriver, these clustered neighborhoods of southern Detroit. It is below zero right now, frozen over, iced down. The snow is no longer fluffy or crunchy; it is rock solid, piled high along the road like glaciers. It’s only a few days after Thanksgiving, and already merry fools are dragging Christmas trees along the curb. Kamila can’t help but think that they look like corpses. America is a strange place.

“´Sniadanie!” Her mother barks from downstairs, but Kamila can’t eat breakfast so she ignores her mother. Kamila has other things on her mind today, things that can no longer be put off. She’s been here for weeks, and now she’s ready.

The house is quiet. The modest little yellow house that her parents scrounged for is a two-story, gated little piece of the American dream, just off Spruce Street. Kamila’s parents have lived here since 1997, and five years after they left Poland for good, Kamila, their only daughter, has finally come for a visit.

When Lech Wałe˛sa won and the world changed, Kamila’s parents, Włodek and Zofia Marchewski, took full advantage of their nation’s newfound freedom. They flew from Poland to Ankara for Easter, spent Christmas in Crete, and then, one summer, Włodek visited his second cousin who lived in a sleepy, leafy suburb of Detroit. And Włodek kept visiting, each time for longer periods, until finally his wife, Zofia, allowed him the courtesy and joined him, first for two weeks, then for good. Why exactly he fell in love with Michigan as opposed to Rome or London, nobody knew, least of all Kamila. But fall in love he did, and that love eclipsed all fear of laws and impunities, and so her parents became, like countless other Poles in the States, illegal aliens.

Read More Show Less

Reading Group Guide

1. The Lullaby of Polish Girls explores issues of identity in many different ways. In what ways do Anna, Justyna, and Kamila struggle to define themselves? What events in their individual lives throw those definitions into question?

2. What does Anna originally find so alluring about Ben and their potential as a couple? Why do you think her hopes and possibilities for their relationship ultimately fall short, and how does this relate to her internal struggles throughout the novel?

3. Anna’s first trip back to Poland gives her life a new focus. What seems at first to be a dramatic teenage decision to return—-“She’ll work after school and buy her own airplane ticket if she has to. . . . If her parents don’t let her come back next year, she will probably kill herself.”—-turns out to be a solemn vow. Why do you think her short, unexpected trip has such a profound effect on Anna’s life? How do her Polish family and friends play a role in that shift? What needs does her Polish life fulfill that her American life doesn’t, and vice versa?

4. Why do you think Anna is drawn to acting, and what about her personality and circumstances make her especially successful? During a lunch meeting with her agent, Anna seems to realize that things are different for her now and that, for the time being, she is no longer willing to make the sacrifices she would have to in order to put her acting career back on course. Why has Anna’s attitude changed, and do you think she will ever be able to view acting—-and the industry surrounding it—-though the rose—colored glasses she had at the beginning of her career?

5. At first blush, Justyna appears to be a character that follows her own rules and does exactly as she pleases, regardless of her reputation or public opinion. But there are several moments in the novel when Justyna is unable to act on her desires. For instance, the passage after Paweł’s funeral, when Elwira tells Justyna that she plans to move out (p. 63):

For a second, Justyna wants to get down on her hands and knees and beg her sister to stay. To confess that she can’t face these four walls alone haunted by the past. . . . “Do what you wanna do, -Elwira,” Justyna says quietly. “Just don’t leave me alone tonight. Please.”

Why does Justyna have trouble acting in this emotional situation? What are some other important moments in the novel where Justyna is unable to act on her desires or ask for help?

6. Anna, Justyna, and Kamila have a complex friendship. They fight, talk behind one another’s backs, and go without communicating for several years. Yet when Justyna endures a devastating loss, Anna and Kamila are immediately thrown into emotional turmoil, and Justyna is shocked at how much she cares whether or not her friends send wreaths to the funeral. Why do you think these women share such a surprisingly strong connection, and return to each other in times of crisis? Do you think this is a realistic depiction of friendship?

7. Dominczyk certainly does not shy away from hard subjects or dirty language. All three of the girls talk tough and experiment with sex and intimacy throughout the novel, yet the scene at the Te˛cza Basen belies a certain amount of innocence behind their bravado. How does that naïveté come into play later in the chapter when Lolek rapes Anna, and what lasting effect does that moment have on both Anna and Justyna?

8. Arguably, Kamila is the character most devoted to molding herself into her ideal persona. What drastic measures does she take to control the way others see her and, when she is forced to realize that Emil is gay, what beyond her failed marriage is Kamila forced to acknowledge?

9. When Anna’s mother had her fortune read, she was told, “Things will break apart and it will always be your job to put them back together.” There are countless instances of things falling apart in The Lullaby of Polish Girls; consider some of these moments from the novel. Who shoulders the burden of putting things back together and how successful are they? Is patching things up always the best choice the characters can make?

10. Anna, Justyna, and Kamila have very different relationships with their parents. In what ways do each of the girls’ parents influence the women that they become? How does each girl’s perception of her parents change throughout the course of the novel?

11. The title, The Lullaby of Polish Girls, suggests that Polish girls require a different type of soothing. How does that idea resonate in this story?

12. The novel ends mid—scene, as the clock strikes twelve and the three women are on the brink of making decisions about how to rebuild their lives. What do you think each character is likely to do? Do you think this moment actually marks a sea change in each of their lives? Each has been stripped of her armor over the course of the novel. What identity is each woman left with?

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 3 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(1)

4 Star

(1)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 2013

    Annonymous

    Only 187 pages long for 12.99 that is ridiculous!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 7, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)