Kasia Jaronczyk

ISBN 978-1-77126-140-1
$20.00 CDN/USA
134 pages

In the linked stories of Kasia Jaronczyk’s Lemons, the lives of Basia and her family are seen through a kaleidoscopic lens that follows them over twenty years from communist Poland, to their new home in Canada, then back to Poland, to make sense of everything that has happened in the interim. A young girl struggles with her awakening sexuality in an environment where corporal punishment and male dominance are the norm, and every man, even a close relative, can be a sexual threat; where absolute obedience is demanded as a sign of love; while on the playground she struggles to find her place a hierarchy of mean, tough, but charismatic girls. Her mother’s return creates new conflicts as she fights over inheritance, offers harmful advice to friends, and accuses her daughter-in-law of a crime. Over time, the experiences of Basia and her mother Magda shift and refract the perspectives through which we view how younger and older women, and their relationships, are shaped by cultural and material changes in their lives.

“In these gritty stories, Kasia Jaronczyk focuses on the intimacies of life in communist Poland and on the lingering effects it has on those who left and those who stayed. Children play in empty, concrete parking lots and brag that their fathers beat them. Family issues and sexual tensions escalate in overcrowded apartment blocks, teeming with secrecy and suspicion. The writing here is startling, and Jaronczyk’s use of language sharpens the senses. Lemons is certainly not sweet, but reading it is pure pleasure.”

Karen Smythe, author of This Side of Sad

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