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.