A couple of debut novels about young women coming of age highlight this week’s column. In “The First Rule of Swimming,” by Courtney Angela Brkic, we have the story of two sisters from Rosmarina, an isolated island off of Croatia. Jadranka, the younger sister, is a free spirit who often disappears, testing the limits of her boundaries. When she is gone again, and weeks pass by, her older sister, Magdalena, realizes she has to set out to find her.
Her search takes her to New York City. There she finds not only an America unlike what she expected, but discovers “a dark history of secrets and half-truths stretching through three generations of her family.” The novel reveals a number of stories, as it moves back and forth in time and across continents. Author Daphne Kalotay wrote: “Brkic seamlessly negotiates past and present, silence and secrets, to reveal one family’s enduring love — as profound and as perilous as the sea surrounding their island home. With beautiful images and characters that are vividly real, this novel is a delicately written work of art, about history and memories and the grief at their fading and loss.”
Another debut novel is “The Lullaby of Polish Girls,” by Dagmara Dominczyk. Young Anna and her parents immigrate to the United States from Poland in the 1980s, as political refugees due to her father’s involvement in the Solidarity movement. They land in Brooklyn, but Anna never quite gets her head around her new surroundings. The summer that she turns 12, she is sent back to Poland to visit her grandmother, and there she suddenly feels comfortable.
She befriends two local girls in her family’s hometown of Kielce. One is Justyna who is “brash and beautiful.” The other, Kamila, is “desperately awkward.” Anna returns summer after summer and the three girls form an indelible bond. A series of events bring them together again after they’ve grown and long since left home. The book “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.” Publishers Weekly wrote: “This gossipy, feisty debut…follows a trio of friends across decades and the Iron Curtain, from Community Poland to adulthood in the U.S…..Fresh and revelatory.”
We continue with our new film series this Saturday, Sept. 14, with The Graduate (1967). Nominated for seven Oscars and winner for Best Director Mike Nichols, this groundbreaking and “wildly hilarious” (The Boston Globe) social satire launched the career of two-time Oscar winner Dustin Hoffman.
Film critic Walter Chaw will be on hand, as always, to introduce the film and discuss it after viewing. The program gets underway at 1 p.m. and is open to the public. Popcorn, cookies, water and ideas are all free, compliments of the Friends of the Library.
Join us at the Barnes & Noble store in Denver West for our Gilpin County Library Book Night on Sept. 18, with special guest author Maureen Dudley, who will sign copies of her book, “Voices of the Earth,” Book one of The Plateau trilogy. Any purchase you make in the store during the entire day will benefit the Friends of the Library as long as you tell the cash register clerk you support the Gilpin Library. Stop by after 5 p.m. and meet Maureen Dudley.
Please mark your calendars for the second annual Gilpin Art Studio tour on Sept. 21 and 22. You are invited to attend the artists’ reception on Friday, Sept. 20, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Gilpin County Public Library. Meet the artists on the tour. Enjoy refreshments. See a preview of work from the artists on the tour, and pick up your tour map.