Kirkus Reviews QR Code
HOOPI SHOOPI DONNA by Suzanne Strempek Shea


by Suzanne Strempek Shea

Pub Date: June 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-671-53544-7
Publisher: Pocket

 A worthy follow-up (titled after the American pronunciation of a Polish polka) to Shea's promising debut (Selling the Lite of Heaven, 1994); again, the author captures the spirit of an insular Polish-Catholic community and homes in on one unforgettable family. Donna Milewski is a relatively content 14-year-old--until her parents decide to adopt her cousin, six-year-old Elzbieta--the daughter of Donna's father's brother, who can no longer support his family back in Poland. Donna is ambivalent about the newcomer (called Betty in Massachusetts), but when Betty follows Donna on her first date and gets them both hit by an out-of-control truck, her happy existence abruptly ends. In the accident's aftermath, Donna gets blamed for being irresponsible, Betty--thought to have saved Donna--becomes a heroine, and the media goes crazy over the brave immigrant child who risked all to save her new ``sister,'' even giving the Milewskis a new home. No one bothers to ask Donna what happened (and she can't speak for six weeks, her broken jaw wired shut), so it's never discovered that it was Donna who saved Betty--and no one believes her when she later tries to explain. Meanwhile, Donna's father immediately transfers all his affections to Betty--for reasons unexplained. Although both girls recover physically, once Donna graduates from high school she moves out of her parents' house and never speaks to her father again. It will take his death--and an all-girl polka band she forms on an old friend's suggestion--before she can finally come to terms with her father, Betty, the accident, and a romance that's been waiting right next door. Until the ludicrous finale, when Betty's sister Aniela, a Donna look-alike from Poland, appears and offers a highly implausible rationale for Donna's father's inexcusable behavior, this is a sometimes rollicking, sometimes heartbreaking, effectively quirky read. (Author tour; radio satellite tour)