Synopses & Reviews
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
“Fresh and revelatory.”—Publishers Weekly
“The cast of characters is equally broad in scope, yet each one is richly imagined. . . . This debut is not to be missed.”—Library Journal
"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)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About 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.