I was playing around with my library’s online catalog, browsing through the subject listings for fiction books, and I ended up finding A Long, Long Time Ago and Essentially True by Brigid Pasulka while looking at novels that take place in Poland. The summary sounded interesting enough, so I picked this up the next time I went to the library, and I’m glad I did.
The book follows several generations of families from a Polish village, switching between the time around WWII and the mid-90s, after the end of communism. Sometimes this sort of construction can be confusing, but I think it was really nicely done, and you end up piecing together the family and their stories as you read along.
Another element I liked was that Polish words are interspersed with the English. I knew a few already (my mother’s side of the family is originally from Poland), but most are easily figured out from context, though you might want to look at the pronunciation guide on the author’s web site.
It’s hard to put my finger on what made this book so enjoyable to me, though I did feel a bit of connection to the author, whose family is Polish and settled in Illinois as well. Even so, I think it was a really nice book, and I would highly recommend it.