I was ten years old when Grandma Lipski took me to the Polish cemetery in Chicago to show me her mother's grave. In front of a gravestone marked Rodzina Czerwinski she sat and cried, while I watched her, this tough little grandma who never cried.
Many years later, when I thought about writing a book about a Polish girl from Chicago, I decided to call her Rodzina after my great-grandmother. I checked with my father to make sure I had the spelling correct, and I discovered that Rodzina was not her first name, but was the Polish word for "family." The gravestone marked the resting place of the rodzina Czerwinski, or Czerwinski family.
Rodzina is about the search for a family, and I decided that while Rodzina was not my great-grandmother's name, it was the perfect name for the girl in my story. And so she is Rodzina.
I would like to dedicate this book to my family -- the Czerwinskis, the Cushmans, and the Lipskis, who were kings in Poland.