Recommended Reading:
My Polish-American Mother

Frances Lareau's Polish-American mother.

Frances Lareau’s Polish-American mother.

Self-published through AuthorHouse and written as if for family, Frances Lareau’s 2011 memoir is not the kind of book I would ordinarily recommend. Intrigued by the title, My Polish-American Mother, and its unavailability at the Chicago Public Library, I was prompted to purchase a copy, curious but expecting little. I was pleasantly surprised by this lovingly assembled set of memories.

A tribute to her mother and her Polish ways, Lareau’s collection of stories was inspired by the task of going through her mother’s papers and momentos following her death in 2002. Objects such as bobby pins and a pressure cooker stir memories of her mother and grandmother.

Lareau writes with heart in a style that seems diarylike and totally lacking in literary ambition. Yet it is this amateurish quality and lack of pretense that makes it so heartfelt–a tribute to Polish mothers everywhere. The section of her mother’s recipes will delight and amuse anyone who lived through the second half of the twentieth century and watched immigrants adapt to cooking in the USA—“American Chop Suey,” “Apple Pie,” and “Bread Pudding,” and “Jell-O.”

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